Analysts speculate over Sun Interbrew investor

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The Alfa Group says that its holding company Alfa-Eco has increased
its stake in the Sun Interbrew company by increasing the number of
shares it holds in the company to 15 per cent - a move that could
set the Moscow-based investment group up to become a controlling
interest on the company's executive board.

Last week reported that the Alfa Group had taken its shareholding in the leading player in the Russian and Ukraine beer markets up to 10.2 per cent, but since then the company has proceeded to buy up more shares in an effort to further increase the stake.

Press reports say that that Sun Interbrew is unhappy about the move, although the company has not made any official comment about it.

The company has already said that it wishes to accumulate a blocking stake in Sun Interbrew in an effort to play an active role in the company's executive board. Now that ambition appears to be one step closet to being a reality, as the investment company's hold on the brewer tightens.

However, analysts say that because of the way that Sun Interbrew is set up, it is likely that Alfa will be able to exercise any significant power in the boardroom. This leads many to conclude that the investment company is making the move purely for speculative purposes, and that the stake will eventually give the company a significant profit margin if it is sold off on the stock markets.

Russian press reports said that the financial market had had little reaction to Alfa-Eco as the volume of exchange operations had remained insignificant. This, the reports suggest, means it is possible to assume that Alfa-Eco has been buying its shares in Sun Interbrew directly from portfolio investors - suggestions the investment company are strongly denying.

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