Thais fish for F&N stock with $9.60 bait

Thais fish for F&N stock with $9.60 bait

SINGAPORE - Banks acting on behalf of Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's investment vehicle tried unsuccessfully over the weekend to pick up an additional 10 per cent of Fraser and Neave from institutional shareholders at $9.60 per share, market sources said on tuesday.

That price represents an 8.1 per cent increase over Mr Charoen's current $8.88 per share offer for majority control of F&N, and a 5.7 per cent increase over a rival bid of $9.08 per share by a consortium led by Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE). Both offers are conditional upon the offerors gaining majority control of F&N.

F&N shares opened at $9.52 yesterday and closed 6 cents, or 0.6 per cent, higher at $9.63.

Representatives for Mr Charoen declined to comment.

Representatives for Citigroup and Religare, the two banks said to be involved in the weekend solicitation, also declined to comment.

Responding to a Bloomberg article headlined "Charoen said to seek additional 10 per cent stake in F&N from funds" on tuesday, TCC Assets Ltd (through which Mr Charoen is making his bid in concert with his listed brewer Thai Beverage Public Co) announced last night that TCC has, "from time to time, been approached by shareholders and/or brokers in relation to potential sales of shares in (F&N)" to TCC.

"Shareholders should, however, note that, unless a formal announcement is made by or on behalf of the offeror, there is no certainty that any transaction would materialise and/or any revision of the offer price would be made," said TCC.

Mr Charoen has until Jan 2 to decide if he wants to extend and raise his current offer.

The tender by OUE, a property developer, will lapse a day later, on Jan 3.

The weekend foray offers some insight into how far Mr Charoen might be willing to go if he were to raise his offer.

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