Singapore’s Regulator Sets Deadline in F&N Takeover Battle

Singapore regulators set a Jan. 20 deadline for Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi and a rival group to make final offers for Fraser & Neave Ltd., the 130-year-old beverage company at the center of a bidding war.

Charoen in September made a S$8.88 ($7.24) a share offer for the property and beverages company. A group led by Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. on Nov. 15 topped that with a S$9.08 offer.

Both companies will have till 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 20 to make final offers, the Securities Industry Council said in a statement late yesterday. An auction process will be held if there is a stalemate after that time, the regulator said.

“Shareholders should be provided with certainty to make their investment decisions in respect of the competing offers,” it said in the statement.

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. F&N shares have traded above both offers in a sign that investors expect the bidding war to escalate.

F&N traded 0.2 percent lower at S$9.68 at 9:32 a.m. local time. OUE, a Singapore-based property company, has teamed with 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.

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