ThaiBev shakes up Singapore drink makers
- Published: 14/09/2012 at 01:56 AM
- Online news:
SINGAPORE : Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi made a S$9 billion (US$7.3 billion, 220 billion baht) bid for the 70 per cent of Fraser & Neave Ltd. he does not control, potentially blocking Heineken NV from buying the company's beer business.
Thai Beverage (ThaiBev) and its partner TCC Assets offered other owners S$8.7 billion to take over Singapore's Fraser and Neave (F&N), the parent of Asia-Pacific Breweries (APB), maker of Tiger Beer and other popular brands.
Heineken NV considered its next step in a two-month battle to gain control of F&N's beer business.
Heineken's options may include making a counter offer for F&N, either by itself or with a partner, said Goh Han Peng, an analyst at DMG & Partners Research Pte in Singapore.
Japan's Kirin Holdings Co., which also owns a 15 percent stake in F&N, had considered making a bid for F&N's food and soft-drinks unit, several people with knowledge of the matter said in August. Coca-Cola Co. has explored a bid for the drinks operations, people with knowledge of the matter have said.
ThaiBev makes Chang Beer and is also involved in food and non-alcoholic drinks.
According to Forbes business magazine, Charoen is the third richest person in Thailand with an estimated fortune of $6.2 billion as of August, with the bulk of his money coming from his beverage business.
Justin Harper, a market strategist with IG Markets Singapore, said the Thai move could scuttle Heineken's takeover of APB but Charoen's final goal remained unclear.
"It will definitely create some uncertainty among F&N shareholders as they head to the September 28 (meeting). ThaiBev have been a bit secretive in what their true intentions are and this bid sheds no real light on what these are," he said.
Heineken, which owns 46.3 percent of APB, won't walk away from the deal as the Amsterdam-based brewer wouldn't be able to realize its ambition of becoming a global brewer, Goh said.
"Giving up is out of the question," the analyst said. "If Heineken makes an offer with another party, the possibility of a break-up is higher."
The Dutch company, the world's third-largest brewer, has sought full control over APB to protect its hold over a key emerging-markets business. Heineken has the smallest presence of the world's big three brewers in developing regions such as Asia and Latin America, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Heineken in August raised its offer for APB to S$53 a share from S$50 and said it won't increase the bid. The $4.4 billion offer followed a S$55-a-share bid from a company controlled by Charoen's son-in-law for a 7.3 percent stake.
Thursday's offer for F&N "makes it even more unclear how Heineken can ever gain control of the APB asset," Earlam said.
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Writer: Bloomberg, AFP