Thai Billionaire Charoen Wins Control of Fraser & Neave

Thailand’s richest man won control of Fraser & Neave Ltd. after his S$13.8 billion ($11.2 billion) offer for the 130-year-old property and beverage company gained the backing of a majority of shareholders.

Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s Jan. 18 offer of S$9.55 a share topped a proposal from rival Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd. His bid had the support of 50.9 percent of shareholders yesterday, according to a Singapore exchange statement by his company, TCC Assets Ltd.

“Accordingly, the F&N offer has become unconditional in all respects,” TCC Assets said.

The deal gives Charoen control over a company that has assets from soft drinks to serviced apartments across Southeast Asia. The billionaire first invested in F&N in July, setting off a fight for its assets that led to the biggest acquisition of a Singapore-based company.

Charoen gained the upper hand in the takeover battle after rival OUE failed to match his offer this month. OUE, a Singapore-based property company, had enlisted Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings Co. in its November bid. OUE would get the company’s property business and Kirin would take the food and beverage unit, under that pact. The Japanese brewer has a 14.8 percent stake in F&N.

Thai Investments

Charoen, 68, agreed to buy a 22 percent stake in F&N in July, sparking a fight for its assets. He had offered S$8.88 a share in September.

The latest offer will be extended to Feb. 18, TCC Assets said in the statement yesterday.

Shares of Thai Beverage Pcl, a Thai brewery controlled by Charoen, climbed 8.1 percent to a record 53.5 Singapore cents at the close yesterday. F&N increased 0.1 percent to S$9.56, closing above Charoen’s offer price for the first time since OUE pulled out of the bidding war.

The Thai billionaire was born and raised in Bangkok’s Chinatown district. He bid for the rights to operate distilleries during a liberalization of the nation’s liquor industry, before expanding into beer, alcohol, sugar, and packaging businesses.

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

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.

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