Battle over Fraser & Neave prolonged as consortium extends offer deadline

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2013, 2:48am


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A group led by Overseas Union Enterprise extended a deadline for a S$13.1 billion (HK$83.16 billion) bid for Fraser & Neave, prolonging its battle with a Thai billionaire for control of the Singapore conglomerate.

The OUE-led group pushed back the date on its S$9.08-per-share bid to January 14, according to a stock exchange statement yesterday. Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi on Wednesday moved the closing date on his S$8.88-per-share offer until January 10.

Charoen agreed to buy a 22 per cent stake in F&N in July, setting off a fight for the company's soft-drink and property assets and prompting the sale of its beer unit to Heineken. F&N shares have traded above both offers in a sign that investors expect the bidding war to escalate.

OUE, a Singapore-based property company, has enlisted Kirin, Japan's largest drinks maker, in its bid. OUE would get the company's property business and Kirin would take the food and beverage unit.

Kirin has agreed to tender its 14.8 per cent stake in F&N, OUE has said. The Japanese brewer, Asia's biggest beverage maker, will offer S$2.7 billion for F&N's food and beverage business, if OUE wins enough support to complete the takeover.

F&N has said it had committed to pay the OUE consortium a break-up fee of as much as S$50 million if a competing offer were successful.

F&N's board has said an independent adviser has found both offers "not compelling, though fair".

Charoen's unlisted business, TCC, has a real-estate unit. His Thai Beverage, which sells the Chang brand of beer, gets almost all its revenue from its home market.

The Thai billionaire agreed to pay S$2.78 billion for an initial 22 per cent stake in F&N by acquiring the stock held by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp and its partners. He later acquired more shares to take him near the threshold to make a bid.

Charoen's offer for F&N valued the rest of the company at about S$8.9 billion on September 13, the day his TCC assets offered S$8.88 a share for the 69.6 per cent of F&N it did not already control.

OUE executive chairman Stephen Riady is a son of Mochtar Riady, who controls Indonesia's Lippo, with businesses ranging from real estate and financial services to food across Asia. If successful, it would be the biggest acquisition of a Singapore-based company.

OUE was planning at least one investment a year in Singapore to boost property holdings, Stephen Riady said.

Heineken won control of F&N's brewery unit, the maker of Tiger beer, in a deal that closed in November.