Overseas Union-led group withdraws from F&N takeover battle

Overseas Union-led group withdraws from F&N takeover battle

SINGAPORE - A Thai tycoon on Monday moved closer to taking over Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N) after his Indonesian rival pulled out of a rare auction.

The offer by TCC Assets, controlled by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, is still subject to approval by F&N shareholders.

Property firm Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE), linked to Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady, said in a statement it was not revising its S$13.1 billion bid, which translated to S$9.08 a share, made in mid-November.

TCC at the weekend raised its bid for the F&N shares it does not already own to S$9.55 apiece from S$8.88.

OUE’s decision prompted stock market watchdog the Securities Industry Council to declare the auction over on the day it started.

The securities council had called the auction to resolve a protracted battle for F&N after it sold off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken in September.

Both TCC and OUE had since sought extensions on revising their offers, prompting the council to step in.

At stake are F&N’s property, beverages and publishing operations.

OUE is controlled by Indonesia’s Lippo Group founded by Riady. His son Stephen is its executive chairman.

With OUE out of contention, TCC has a week formally to table the offer for F&N, whose shareholders have 14 days to decide whether to accept the bid.

The takeover will become mandatory once TCC breaches the 50-pe rcent threshold for acceptances. Charoen’s group already holds a little over 40 percent of F&N.

OUE said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange it had decided not to revise its offer because it would have had to raise its bid price significantly to secure more than 50 per cent acceptances from shareholders.

It said such a price may not be beneficial for OUE because of the potential impact of new government measures to cool down the Singapore property market.

Singapore this month made it costlier for foreigners to buy property and imposed other measures to rein in home prices, which have continued to rise despite an economic slowdown.

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


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