Asahi Breweries is considering buying a stake in Vietnam's Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp. (Sabeco), according to reports.

Citing sources close to the situation, Kyodo News reported late last week that the Japanese brewer is close to buying a 10% stake in the state-owned company. The sources told the paper that Asahi will make the move if it deems the acquisition cost and other terms being offered by the Vietnamese company to be appropriate.

Earlier this year, Sabeco saw its IPO raise VND5.49 trillion (US$341m), making up only 61% of what the company had hoped to raise. A total of 78.4m of the 128.3m shares that were offered were sold, at an average price of VND70,003 each, holding steady from the VND70,000 starting price initially set for bids.

The 128.3m shares on offer represented around 20% of Sabeco's shares. Foreign investors acquired 6.9m of the 78.4m shares, the company said.

Reports out of Vietnam in January said that Sabeco had approached a raft of international brewers, including Anheuser-Busch and InBev, with a view to taking a strategic stake in the company. The state-owned brewer currently accounts for around a third of Vietnam's fast-growing beer market.

Like all other Japanese brewers, Asahi has warned that domestic sales will struggle in 2008, as rising raw material costs lead to price rises in the country.