Charoen Said to Seek Additional 10% Stake in F&N From Funds

Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi tried to buy a stake of about 10 percent in Fraser & Neave Ltd. for S$9.60 a share from at least two funds as he competes for control of the Singapore company, said three people with knowledge of the matter.

The deal was not completed, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Charoen, who already owns about 35 percent of F&N and needs more than 50 percent by Jan. 2 to prevent his takeover bid from failing, enlisted Citigroup Inc. in an offer to buy 144 million F&N shares, they said.

Charoen’s attempt indicates he may seek to top an offer for F&N by Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. The billionaire has extended a deadline for his S$8.88 per share bid for the company four times, while OUE offered to pay S$9.08 on Nov. 15. F&N, with a market value of S$13.8 billion ($11.3 billion), has traded above both bids since Oct. 19.

Citigroup contacted institutional investors about the latest attempted stake purchase starting Dec. 14, two of the people said.

Shares of F&N rose 0.6 percent to S$9.63 in Singapore trading, a record close. The stock has surged 55 percent this year. Thai Beverage gained 3.9 percent to 40 Singapore cents.

‘Not Compelling’

Charoen failed to win support for his S$8.88 a share bid from F&N’s board, which has said an independent adviser found that offer “not compelling, though fair.”

OUE has enlisted Kirin Holdings Co., F&N’s second-largest shareholder, in its bid. If its offer succeeds, OUE would get the company’s property business and Kirin, Japan’s largest drinks maker, would take the food and beverage unit.

Both takeover offers are conditional on the buyers getting more than 50 percent of F&N. Without crossing that threshold, either buyer would have to return their shares to selling shareholders, documents related to the bids show. OUE’s offer expires Jan. 3.

Charoen’s TCC Assets Ltd., which made the offer to buy F&N, said in an e-mailed statement it has been approached by beverage company’s shareholders about the sale of their stock, adding that there’s no certainty a transaction would materialize unless it made a formal announcement. The statement was issued through its advisers United Overseas Bank Ltd., DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Morgan Stanley.

Vichate Tantiwanich, a spokesman for Charoen’s Thai Beverage Pcl, the largest shareholder in F&N, and Richard Tesvich, a Hong Kong-based spokesman for Citigroup, declined to comment on the attempted stake purchase.

Charoen, 68, has a net worth of $8.5 billion, according to data compiled and calculated through the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His unlisted business, TCC Group, has a real estate unit. Thai Beverage, which sells the Chang brand of beer, gets almost all its revenue from its home market.

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