In an interview with Bloomberg, Lee Meng Tat, the CEO of Fraser and Neave’s non-alcoholic beverage operations, said the group would “look at” increasing its shareholding in Vinamilk if the opportunity arose.
Fraser and Neave holds an 11.04% stake in Vinamilk. It is the largest overseas investor in the business.
Vietnam’s sovereign fund, the State Capital Investment Corporation, owns 45% of Vinamilk. Last October, the Vietnamese government announced its intention to sell the shares. However, a spokesperson for Vinamilk told just-food in June the fund would not offload its shares in the business in 2016.
If more shares in Vinamilk become “available and it makes financial sense, we will always look at it,” Lee told Bloomberg. “That has always been our position.”
Contacted by just-food today (16 August), a spokesperson for Fraser and Neave said the comment was referring to “any acquisition target, not just Vinamilk”.
The spokesperson added: “F&N is constantly on the lookout for opportunities in the food and beverage sector that will contribute to the growth of F&N. Dairies, including ice cream, is one area we will continue to explore.”
Asked if Fraser and Neave had held discussions with Vinamilk about increasing its stake in the company, the spokesperson said she “cannot comment”.
Fraser and Neave’s food and beverage arm produces and sells soft drinks, dairies and ice cream. The division consists principally of a 56% stake in a Malaysia-listed entity, Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd, as well as an unlisted soft drinks and dairies business in Singapore, as well as ice cream operations in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand. Through the unlisted F&B Singapore unit, Fraser and Neave has a 70% stake in Yoke Food Industries Sdn Bhd, a Malaysia-based company that manufactures, markets and distributes canned beverages in Malaysia and exports to Singapore, Indonesia and Indochina.
Fraser & Neave Holdings Bhd, meanwhile, has a 20% stake in Malaysian food and drink group Cocoaland.