Guangdong Brewery remark paves the way for more overseas stake-building Guangdong Brewery Holdings says it is open to foreign equity control as long as the company continues to thrive. The remark paves the way for foreign brewers wanting to take a majority stake in the mainland's No12 brewer, which is 53 per cent-owned by the Guangdong provincial government. Earlier this year, Heineken bought 21 per cent of the company from the government. The number of foreign brewers buying stakes in Chinese counterparts has been growing. Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch won a takeover battle with SABMiller for Harbin Brewery Group, one of the mainland's oldest beer companies. However, two leading brewers have said they will not relinquish control to foreign investors. Tsingtao Brewery, the mainland's largest brewer, has said the Qingdao municipal government insisted on maintaining majority control, although the brewer brought in Anheuser-Busch as a strategic investor two years ago. Beijing Yanjing Brewery, the country's third-largest beermaker, remains wholly Chinese-owned. It is reported to have turned down proposals from about 10 prospective strategic investors, including Anheuser-Busch and SABMiller. Guangdong Brewery chairman Ye Xuquan said disposal of state-owned shares in non-strategic businesses was in line with the reform of state-owned enterprises. 'The government is not after ownership but progress,' Mr Ye said after the company's annual general meeting yesterday. However, he said that while the management welcomed foreign equity control, it was up to the Guangdong government to decide. 'I have not heard anything about the government's intention to sell the state-owned shares in our company,' Mr Ye said. Previously, the Guangdong government directly controlled 26 leading provincial enterprises. This number has fallen to 18 as the government gradually sold off state-owned shares. Heineken Asia Pacific Breweries (China) chairman Koh Poh Tiong said his company was interested in increasing its stake in Guangdong Brewery. Guangdong Brewery, which will change its name to Kingway Brewery Holdings, said sales volume rose 38 per cent year on year in the first five months. It has set a sales target of one million tonnes in five years, or 3 per cent of the market. The brewer sold 273,000 tonnes of beer last year, or 1.1 per cent of the market.