Tue, Jan 22, 2013 - Page 15 News List

Singapore’s F&N put up for auction as bidders gather

AFP, SINGAPORE

A rare auction for a listed Singaporean company opened yesterday with Thai and Indonesian tycoons facing off to take over diversified conglomerate Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N).

The auction was called by a stock market watchdog to resolve a protracted battle for F&N after it sold off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken in September last year.

At stake are F&N’s property, beverages and publishing operations.

A spokesman for the Securities Industry Council (SIC), which called for the auction, said the process officially opened yesterday after Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi made a fresh pre-auction bid over the weekend.

Charoen’s TCC Assets on Saturday said it was increasing its offer for F&N shares it does not own from S$8.88 a share to S$9.55.

The total S$13.75 billion (US$11.18 billion) offer trumped the S$13.1 billion, or S$9.08 per share, bid tabled by property firm Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd (OUE) in November last year, but it was still lower than F&N’s closing price last week.

The stock surged 1.25 percent, or S$0.12, to S$9.70 yesterday.

The revised bid leaves “the Thais in the driving seat this morning,” IG Markets said in a report.

“The drawn-out sparring match for the prized asset of Fraser & Neave has reached the final round with the Thais delivering what could be the knockout punch,” the report added.

OUE is controlled by Indonesia’s Lippo Group, whose founder is Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady. His son Stephen is OUE’s executive chairman.

Under the auction rules set by SIC, a daily bidding process will take place from yesterday until one party gives up.

F&N shareholders had reacted coolly to the original bids after an adviser gave a much higher valuation than those tabled by TCC Assets and OUE.

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