MANILA, Sept 28 (Reuters) Major shareholders of San Miguel Corp including Japanese beer maker Kirin <2503.T> and Philippine conglomerate SM Investments want to raise their stakes in Southeast Asia's largest food and drinks group as it pushes further into the power industry.
The two companies and San Miguel itself want to join the bidding for a 24 percent stake in San Miguel being sold by the Philippine government, company president Ramon Ang told reporters on Friday.
The stake has a value of around $1 billion at current market prices.
''Major shareholders of the company are interested,'' he said, adding San Miguel was also interested in buying back some of its own shares.
Ang did not explain if the share buy back would be done through the market or via the government's auction of its stake. But he said company chairman Eduardo Cojuangco was not among the shareholders interested in buying the San Miguel shares.
Kirin Holdings Co already holds about 20 percent of San Miguel and SM Investments Corp almost 11 percent.
The government wants to sell its stake in San Miguel and in other big companies to ensure it remains on track to meet its fiscal goals, particularly a balanced budget target next year.
It has said it would probably auction off the San Miguel stake next year after it settles issues related to ownership claims on the shares.
San Miguel has said it wants to diversify into power, infrastructure, and utilities to fuel future growth because it already dominates its home market for beer, liquor, dairy, and raw and processed meats and poultry.
Ang said San Miguel would bid in November for the government's 60 per cent stake in PNOC-Energy Development Corp . The sale in the firm, which accounts for more than 60 percent of the country's installed geothermal capacity, is expected to raise at least 36 billion pesos.
Triratna Holdings Corp, a consortium of the country's top businessmen including Ang, was among the 24 registered bidders for the goverment's stake in PNOC-Energy Development, valued at around $1.3 billion at current market prices.
But Ang said Triratna may bow out of the PNOC-EDC bidding once the government confirms that San Miguel's energy arm would be allowed to make a bid.
Ang said San Miguel also wants to participate in an auction for the state-owned 600-megawatt Calaca coal-fired power plant next month.
If San Miguel wins the Calaca facility in Batangas province south of Manila, Ang said the group would drop out of a government tender for a multi-billion-dollar 25-year licence to run the national power grid.
''Whatever comes first,'' Ang said.
Current laws prevent cross-ownership in the power sector.
The Philippines is selling dozens of power assets to raise between $4-5 billion as part of a wider power and fiscal reform.
It wants to privatise about 70 percent of state-owned generation plants by next year.
San Miguel had formed a consortium with Malaysia's state power firm Tenaga Nasional Berhad and U.S. private equity firm Texas Pacific to bid on Dec. 12 to run the power grid.
PNOC-EDC shares were trading unchanged at 6.4 pesos at Friday's market close. San Miguel's B shares, which are open to all investors, closed up 0.5 percent at 62 pesos while its A shares, restricted to only local investors, climbed 1.5 percent against a 0.13 percent fall in the main index <.PSI>.
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