Heineken gains ThaiBev support to acquire APB


Thu, Sep 20, 2012 - Page 15

Dutch beer giant Heineken yesterday moved one step closer to a US$4.6 billion takeover of top Asian brewer APB when it gained the backing of a Thai rival ahead of a vote on the issue.

Thai Beverage (ThaiBev) and TCC Assets, both controlled by tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said in a joint statement with Heineken that they would support the Dutch firm’s bid to gain control of Asia-Pacific Breweries (APB).

Heineken in turn promised not to make a counter-offer for APB’s parent company Fraser and Neave (F&N), which the Thais want to take over.

“Heineken is now in touching distance of acquiring APB after this surprise backdown by ThaiBev,” said Justin Harper, an analyst with IG Markets Singapore. “There will be a huge sigh of relief coming from Holland [the Netherlands] this morning.”

Heineken already owns 42 percent of Singapore-based APB and offered S$5.6 billion (US$4.6 billion) for the 40 percent stake held by F&N.

This has to be ratified at an extraordinary general meeting of F&N shareholders on Sept. 28.

Until yesterday’s compromise was announced, Heineken’s bid was in doubt after ThaiBev and TCC Assets, which jointly own 30 percent of F&N, last week offered other owners S$8.7 billion to take over the group.

In the joint statement to the Singapore Exchange, the Thais promised to vote in favor of Heineken’s offer, while the Dutch brewer said it “irrevocably undertakes not to make a general offer” for F&N, in which it has no stake.

APB, the crown jewel of F&N, makes Tiger Beer and other popular brands in Asia, where beer consumption is rapidly growing as sales taper off in mature markets like Europe, Heineken’s traditional base.

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

A Heineken takeover of APB would give it an edge over other rivals in Southeast Asia as well as China.

Beer consumption in nine of the 10 Southeast Asian countries totaled 6.84 billion liters last year, up more than 6 percent from 2010, with Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines leading the market, data from research firm Euromonitor showed.