A Thai Beverage affiliate won the right to buy around 54% stake in Vietnam’s Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp. in what is to be the Vietnam government’s biggest divestment of a state-owned enterprise.

Vietnam Beverage, ThaiBev’s domestic unit, took a 54% stake in Sabeco, as Vietnam’s largest brewer is known. An undisclosed individual domestic investor had registered to bid for 20,000 shares. In all, the ministry garnered bids for about 343.682 million shares in Sabeco.

The Vietnamese government expects to collect about $4.8 billion from the deal.

Vietnam Beverage was the only institutional bidder for the company better known as Sabeco. An individual investor who introduced himself as a fortune teller and spiritual dancer also participated in the auction, acquiring a negligible stake.

Vietnam Beverage is wholly owned by F&B Alliance Vietnam, a local unit of the Fraser and Neave (F&N), a food and beverage conglomerate based in Singapore. The Thai Beverage group last month bought a 49% stake in F&B Alliance Vietnam, apparently with the sole intent of bidding for Sabeco.

Anheuser-Busch InBev of Belgium, Japan’s Kirin Holdings and other big multinationals showed interest in Sabeco, Vietnam’s largest brewer, but withdrew, apparently due to the high purchase price.

ThaiBev, the maker of Chang beer, has long sought a major overseas acquisition to reinforce its core spirits and brewing businesses.

An aging population and increasing excise taxes have put a ceiling on Thailand’s alcoholic beverage market. These factors are pushing ThaiBev to become a pan-Southeast Asia provider of beverages.

Thailand has a population of around 68 million, but ThaiBev desperately wants to help itself to more of the rising income of Southeast Asia’s 600 million people.

The company has generated most of its overseas sales in Europe. In Scotland, it owns the Old…

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