ThaiBev will reportedly be the only major bidder in the upcoming auction for Saigon Beer Alcohol & Beverage Corp (Sabeco).

Reuters and Bloomberg said yesterday that a Vietnamese unit of the Chang Beer owner was the sole investor to register to buy at least a 25% stake in Sabeco, according to an official Vietnamese government website. Other brewers can still bid for less than 25% of Sabeco in the 18 December auction.

The sale, which will divest a majority of the Vietnamese government's stake in Vietnam's largest brewer, had appeared to attract heavy interest from international brewers including Anheuser-Busch InBev, Asahi and Kirin. However, an analyst report last week said a relatively high price tag may put some bidders off. Foreign companies are also not allowed to own a majority stake in the brewer under the rules of the auction laid down earlier this month.

"Unless a foreign acquirer can achieve effective majority control by partnering with a local investor, which could be tricky to structure, we expect synergies will be minimal," analysts at Bernstein said.

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