Charoen extends F&N bid as deadline approaches

Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi extended an S$8.9-billion (220 billion baht) offer for Singapore's Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N) to next Tuesday ahead of a deadline for final bids later this month.

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

F&N shares have traded above both offers in a sign investors expect the bidding war to escalate. Mr Charoen agreed to buy a 22% stake in F&N last 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 party. Both parties can raise their bids toward S$10 a share.''

Mr Charoen's offer valued the rest of the company at S$8.9 billion on Sept 13, the day his TCC Assets offered S$8.88 a share for the 69.6% of F&N it did not already control.

TCC moved the closing date on that offer to 5.30pm next Tuesday, 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, while Kirin would take the food and beverage unit.

Kirin has agreed to tender its 14.8% stake in F&N, OUE 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 for the takeover.

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Writer: Jonathan Burgos & Joyce Koh