Another bidder for Singapore’s F&N

Another bidder for Singapore’s F&N

DUBAI - Reuters
Another bidder for Singapore’s F&N

AP photo

A battle for dominance in Asia’s lucrative beer market broke out yesterday as a Thai tycoon made a $7.1 billion bid for a Singapore conglomerate, throwing into doubt Dutch giant Heineken’s expansion in the region.

Thai Beverage (ThaiBev) and its partner TCC Assets offered Sg$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.

The two firms, controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said in a statement they were offering Sg$8.88 per share for the 70 percent of F&N shares they do not yet own.

The all-cash offer came two weeks ahead of a September 28 shareholders’ meeting called by the F&N board to approve Heineken’s Sg$5.6 billion offer for its 40 percent stake in APB, which has 14 breweries across the region.

Heineken already owns 42 percent of APB and a takeover would give it a major advantage in the Asian market, where beer consumption is booming as sales fall in mature markets such as Europe.

Offer represents 4.3 percent premium

The Thai group’s offer represents a 4.3 percent premium on F&N’s last traded price of Sg$8.51 on Wednesday and values the Singapore conglomerate -- also involved in property, food, soft drinks and publishing -- at Sg$12.5 billion.

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.