The Philippine Government is hoping for a healthy windfall from the sale of its stake in San Miguel. Trade Secretary Cesar Purisima, who will become finance secretary next week, told reporters late last week that the government expects to sell its total 41% stake in listed San Miguel, including shares held by two state pension funds, and expects to generate at least US$1.6bn from the sale.

"San Miguel's market capitalisation is around US$4bn," Purisima told reporters. "We will be selling 41%, a block that should carry a premium. You do the math," he added.

Purisima told reporters on Friday (11 February) that he is now coordinating with the president's legal adviser to "tie-up some legal ends" to ensure that there will not be any stumbling blocks to the sale of the 27% stake now held by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG).

He said the PCGG stake will be bundled with the San Miguel shares held by state pension funds Social Security System and Government Service Insurance System. The SSS and GSIS hold a combined 14% stake.

Japan's Kirin Brewery owns around 20% of San Miguel, while a group led by San Miguel chairman Eduardo Cojuangco now controls around 19%. The PCGG is contesting Cojuangco's claim over the 19% share block, claiming it was acquired using funds intended for the development of the coconut industry. Cojuangco has vigorously denied this.

Purisima expects local and foreign groups to form joint ventures to acquire the San Miguel stake.

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced her plan to sell the government's interest in San Miguel last week. The President plans to raise funds for the development of the coconut industry, the source of the country's primary agricultural export.