Fri, Sep 14, 2012 - Page 15 News List

Thai tycoon bids for F&N in competition with Heineken

AFP, SINGAPORE

A battle for dominance in Asia’s lucrative beer market broke out yesterday as a Thai tycoon made a US$7.1 billion bid for a Singapore conglomerate, throwing into doubt Dutch giant Heineken’s expansion in the region.

Thai Beverage (ThaiBev) and its partner TCC Assets offered S$8.7 billion to take over Singapore’s Fraser and Neave (F&N), the parent of Asia-Pacific Breweries (APB), maker of Tiger Beer and other popular brands.

The two firms, controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said in a statement they were offering S$8.88 per share for the 70 percent of F&N shares they do not yet own.

“We believe the offer represents an opportunity for F&N shareholders to realize the value of their investment in cash and to make a complete exit from F&N,” ThaiBev CEO Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi said.

“We hold F&N in high regard and we believe its long-established track record and success in its core businesses will be beneficial to our group,” he said.

F&N asked for a trading halt in its shares after the Thai bid was announced.

The all-cash offer came two weeks ahead of a Sept. 28 shareholders’ meeting called by the F&N board to approve Heineken’s S$5.6 billion offer for its 40 percent stake in APB, which has 14 breweries across the region.

Heineken already owns 42 percent of APB and a takeover would give it a major advantage in the Asian market, where beer consumption is booming as sales fall in mature markets such as Europe.

The Thai group’s offer represents a 4.3 percent premium on F&N’s last traded price of S$8.51 on Wednesday and values the Singapore conglomerate — also involved in property, food, soft drinks and publishing — at S$12.5 billion.

ThaiBev makes Chang Beer and is also involved in food and non-alcoholic drinks.

According to Forbes business magazine, Charoen is the third-richest person in Thailand with an estimated fortune of US$6.2 billion as of last month, with the bulk of his money coming from his beverage business.

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