Thai billionaire moves closer to F&N takeover


Thailand’s third-richest man, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi (File Photo, Xinhua)

Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi was one more step closer to taking over Singapore-listed conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N) on Monday, as his rival bidder dropped out of a rare auction.

This leaves Charoen's TCC Assets and related parties the only bidder. They also formally tabled an offer on Monday to take over Fraser and Neave (F&N) at 9.55 Singapore dollars a share.

The non-mandatory cash offer will be open until 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 4, which means shareholders of F&N has 14 days to decide whether to accept the offer or not.

The offer price of 9.55 Singapore dollars puts the capitalization of F&N at about 13.76 billion Singapore dollars (11. 3 billion U.S. dollars). TCC Assets and its related parties currently control 40.09 percent of the shares in F&N.

To complete the takeover at the current offer price, TCC Assets and its related parties would have to pay an estimated 8.24 billion Singapore dollars (6.75 billion U.S. dollars) for the rest of the shares.

TCC Assets previously offered 8.88 Singapore dollars a share for F&N, which was topped later by the 9.08 Singapore dollars per share offered by property firm Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) in mid-November. This, in turn, prompted TCC Assets to raise its offer price to 9.55 Singapore dollars a share on late Friday.

The prolonged battle prompted stock market watchdog Securities Industry Council (SIC) to call for an auction, saying that investors needed certainty. A daily bidding process took place from Monday until one party gives up.

QUE, controlled by the Lippo Group founded by Indonesian billionaire Mochtar Riady, did not raise its offer price on Monday and said that it was not doing so.

QUE, which now controls close to 15 percent of the shares in F& N, said in a statement that it had decided not to revise its offer because it would have had to raise its bid price significantly to secure more than 50 percent acceptances from shareholders.

The shareholding threshold for a shareholder to put up a mandatory cash offer in Singapore is 50 percent.

"OUE is a disciplined investor and at all times acts in the best interests of OUE and its shareholders," it said.

Market analysts had put the fair value of F&N at between 8.58 Singapore dollars and 11.56 Singapore dollars a share.

The battle to take over F&N began in September after it sold off its 40 percent stake in Tiger Beer maker Asia-Pacific Breweries to Dutch brewer Heineken for 5.6 billion Singapore dollars (4.6 billion U.S. dollars).

The current businesses of F&N include property, beverage and printing. (1 U.S. dollar = 1.22 Singapore dollars)