Kirin to sell entire stake in Singapore's F&N

PHOTO: Kirin to sell entire stake in Singapore's F&N

SINGAPORE - Japanese beverage giant Kirin said Friday it will sell its entire 15 per cent stake in Singapore's Fraser and Neave (F&N) to a Thai tycoon on the verge of taking full control of the conglomerate.

Tokyo-based Kirin said in a statement on its website it will earn S$2.03 billion ($1.64 billion) from the sale of its 14.76 per cent F&N stake to TCC Assets, a firm controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi.

TCC Assets emerged the sole bidder for F&N after its Indonesian rival, Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE), last month pulled out of a rare auction called to resolve a protracted battle for the Singapore firm.

Kirin had backed OUE's offer with an eye on acquiring F&N's food and beverage business if the Indonesian bid had been successful.

"With the recent major change in F&N's ownership structure, weighted heavily to TCC, Kirin has determined that it would be difficult to implement its integrated beverages strategy in Southeast Asia with F&N as Kirin's core partner," the statement read.

"Accordingly (Kirin) has decided to sell Kirin's shares in F&N," it added. With the sale, Charoen will move closer to taking full control of beverage, property and publishing conglomerate F&N after gaining majority ownership of over 50 per cent on Wednesday.

The sale is expected to be completed "no later than February 14," Kirin said in its statement.

TCC Assets, which has been steadily snapping up F&N shares at the final offer price of S$9.55 apiece, currently owns 54.01 per cent of the company without the Kirin stake.

The rest of F&N's shareholders have until February 18 to accept the offer from TCC Assets.

Singapore's Straits Times newspaper has said TCC's takeover, if successful, will be the biggest in the city-state's corporate history.

F&N became a takeover target after it sold off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken in September. It still has lucrative beverage, property and publishing operations.