Beers and Bimmers: San Miguel to buy stake in BMW distributor

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 5) — San Miguel Corp. said it will acquire a stake in the official BMW importer and distributor in the Philippines, a move that marks the conglomerate's foray into the automotive business.

San Miguel President and Chief Operating Officer Ramon Ang told reporters on Tuesday that negotiations with Asian Carmakers Corp. (ACC) should be concluded in the coming weeks.

"I've been invited by [ACC Chair Jose Alvarez] to join the company, but we are finalizing the entry. Maybe within this month," Ang said at the sidelines of the BMW 5 Series car launch on Tuesday.

A stake in ACC will be the first auto business for San Miguel, already one of the largest and most diversified conglomerates in the Philippines. It has wide-ranging interests in food, beverage, oil, power, and infrastructure.

The two parties are still discussing the size of the stake San Miguel will take, but Alvarez said he hoped San Miguel would take "majority ownership" in ACC.

"It will bring this company into greater heights; not only three times, four times, five times. The network of San Miguel is very huge, so we welcome him into the company," Alvarez said.

Once the ownership details are ironed out, ACC will seek approval from the BMW Group in Germany.

ACC president Maricar Cristobal-Parco said this was a matter of procedure, and the parent company is unlikely to raise any issues about the transaction.

San Miguel's investment is timely as ACC gears up for expansion in a car market growing by double-digits this year, Parco said.

As of May, sales of cars in the Philippines surged by 17 percent compared to the previous year. The automotive industry expects to sell a total of 450,000 units this year.

Parco admitted ACC had a weak start to 2017, selling only 400 units in the first semester because of limited stocks. However, she said "double-digit" growth was possible for the BMW distributor, which sold about 1,000 units in 2016.

"We are focusing on closing the year very strong," she said.

A major growth driver will be the new BMW 5 Series. The executive sedan accounts for 20 percent of ACC's total sales and is the best-selling car in its category in the Philippines.

WATCH: BMW rolls out all-new 5 Series cars

Ang said he's a proud owner of a new 5 Series unit, getting his hands on its top-of-the-line model weeks before the official launch.

"It's the best-handling sedan that you can buy. I've been a BMW car owner for so many years," he said.