Sabeco relents to Thai Beverage pressure for board presence

April 16, 2018 | 12:49
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Three foreigners, all of whom were allegedly nominated by Thai Beverage, will join the Sabeco management board at the coming meeting.
sabeco relents to thai beverage pressure for board presence
Outgoing chairman Vo Thanh Ha and Thai Beverage representative Koh Poh Tiong

Vietnam’s top brewer Sabeco has just released the documents for its April 23 extraordinary meeting. According to these files, Sabeco chairman Vo Thanh Ha, who represents the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), will resign from his position and three new investors will be nominated to the board.

Specifically, the two independent nominees are Tan Tiang Hing, CEO of Dexcel International, and Sunyaluck Chaikajornawat from Weerawong Chinnavat & Partners Ltd. The last nominee is Koh Poh Tiong, chairman of Thai Beverage-owned Beer Group. It is alleged that all of these nominees were put forward by Thai Beverage that forked over $4.8 billion to MoIT last December in exchange for 53 per cent of the stakes.

Sabeco’s extraordinary meetings have been shrouded in controversy throughout the past three weeks. Conflicts started when Thai Beverage submitted a complaint letter to the Vietnamese government in late March, stating that it has yet to be given any measure of control at Sabeco, despite having a majority stake at the corporation. Debate then broke out on whether Thai Beverage is justified in making this complaint or if they are too hasty to gain power at Sabeco.

The brewery has also been on the news for its $110-million tax scandal. Although tax collectors have ordered Sabeco to declare its undistributed profits, both Sabeco and independent analysts believe that the firm does not have to do so.

Following the extraordinary meeting on April 23, Sabeco will hold its annual general shareholders’ meeting on June 29. In this meeting in June, the brewery will introduce its new chairman, who is likely to come from Thai Beverage. MoIT, with 36 per cent of the stake following the share sale, will also retain its presence at Sabeco’s board.

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By Nam Phuong

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