Thai Billionaire Extends F&N Bid as Takeover Deadline

Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi extended a S$8.9 billion ($7.3 billion) offer for Singapore’s Fraser & Neave Ltd. to Jan. 15 ahead of a deadline for final bids later this month.

Charoen offered S$8.88 a share for the property and beverages company in September. A group led by Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. on Nov. 15 countered with a S$9.08 per share bid. Both have until Jan. 21 for final offers under Singapore takeover law, said F&N spokeswoman Elaine Lim.

Fraser & Neave shares have traded above both offers in a sign investors expect the bidding war to escalate. Charoen agreed to buy a 22 percent 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 NV.

“The possibility of a bidding war remains,” said Goh Han Peng, an analyst at DMG & Partners Securities, a unit of Malaysia’s OSK Holdings Bhd. “It needs a trigger from either parties. Theoretically, both parties can raise their bids toward S$10 a share.”

F&N shares fell 0.1 percent to close at S$9.69 in Singapore trading yesterday.

Thai Offer

Charoen’s offer valued the rest of the company at about S$8.9 billion on Sept. 13, the day his TCC Assets offered S$8.88 a share for the 69.6 percent of F&N it didn’t already control.

TCC moved the closing date on that offer to 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 15, according to a stock exchange statement yesterday.

OUE, a Singapore-based property company, has enlisted Kirin Holdings Co., 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 percent 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 is successful.

Charoen, 68, has a net worth of $9.3 billion, according to data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His unlisted business, TCC Group, has a real estate unit. Thai Beverage PCL, which sells the Chang brand of beer, gets almost all its revenue from its home market.

“Its unlikely Charoen is going to walk away at this stage,” said Goh. “Both the real estate and F&B businesses for F&N are important to him.”

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