Thai Billionaire Extends F&N Offer Deadline After OUE Bid
Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi extended a deadline for a $7.3 billion offer to gain control of Singapore’s Fraser & Neave Ltd. (FNN) after a group led by Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. (OUE) topped the bid last week.
The closing date for the S$8.88 offer for the property and beverages conglomerate by Charoen’s TCC Assets Ltd., which was to end yesterday, will be extended for a third time to Dec. 11 at 5:30 p.m. Singapore time. The OUE-led group trumped his bid with a S$9.08 offer on Nov. 15. F&N dropped 0.3 percent to close at S$9.39.
Winning control of F&N’s soft-drink and real-estate businesses would be a coup for Charoen as he seeks to expand his operations in Asia. The billionaire has sought control of F&N since July, when he agreed to purchase a stake in the Singapore- based company, setting off a race to buy its assets.
“I doubt Charoen will walk away empty-handed from this deal,” Justin Harper, Singapore-based strategist at IG Markets, said before yesterday’s announcement on the new deadline. An extension is needed “to shore up their finances so they can come up with a better offer that puts off OUE,” he said.
Under the takeover code, TCC has as many as 60 days to respond to OUE’s S$13.1 billion ($10.7 billion) offer after the bid document is sent to F&N shareholders, subject to regulatory approval, said Elaine Lim, a spokeswoman for F&N at its public relations firm, Citigate Dewe Rogerson.
TCC Assets had valid acceptances for 35.04 percent of F&N shares as of 5:30 p.m. Singapore time yesterday, the soft-drink maker said in a statement.
Charoen’s Thai Beverage Pcl (THBEV), the largest shareholder in F&N, fell 1.2 percent to 40.5 Singapore cents today.
OUE has enlisted Kirin Holdings Co. (2503), Japan’s largest drinks maker and F&N’s second-largest shareholder, in its bid. OUE would get the company’s property business and Kirin would take the food and beverage unit.
Kirin, which has a 14.8 percent stake in F&N, has agreed to tender its shares and won’t accept any competing bid, 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.
“We’re aware of the announcement. We want to watch how things develop carefully,” said Kan Yamamoto, a spokesman for the company.
F&N said it had committed to pay the OUE consortium a break-up fee of as much as S$50 million if a competing offer is successful.
Charoen, 68, has failed to win support for his S$8.88 a share bid from F&N’s board, which said an independent adviser found the offer “not compelling, though fair.”
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.
Charoen’s net worth is $8.5 billion, according to data compiled and calculated through the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
OUE Executive Chairman Stephen Riady is a son of Mochtar Riady, who controls Indonesia’s Lippo Group, with businesses ranging from real estate and financial services to food across Asia. If successful, it would be the biggest ever acquisition of a Singapore-based company, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
OUE, which gets about 65 percent of its revenue from hotel operations, is planning at least one investment a year in Singapore to boost property holdings that include office towers, luxury apartments and malls, Stephen Riady said in an interview in August.
Heineken NV (HEIA) won control of F&N’s beer unit, the maker of Tiger beer, in a deal that closed Nov. 15.
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