Thai tycoon completing F&N takeover

PHOTO: Thai tycoon completing F&N takeover

SINGAPORE - A Thai tycoon on Tuesday mopped up more shares of Fraser and Neave (F&N) to complete its takeover of the Singapore conglomerate after an Indonesian rival backed out of a bidding war.

Billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's vehicle TCC Assets is offering to buy F&N shares it does not already own at S$9.55 (US$7.80) apiece until February 4, valuing the company at S$13.75 billion.

TCC Assets said in a statement shortly before noon (0400 GMT) on Tuesday that additional purchases had raised its stake in F&N to 42.50 per cent. It will trigger a mandatory takeover for the rest of the shares after hitting the 50 per cent threshold.

Singapore's Straits Times newspaper said if the takeover pushes through, it 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 beverages, property and publishing operations.

TCC Assets' rival, property firm Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE), gave up the fight when it said after a final auction process was launched Monday that it was not revising its S$13.1 billion bid tabled in mid-November. OUE is linked to Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady.

"With no other competing offer, investors are likely to accept TCC's S$9.55 offer," Japanese brokerage Nomura said in a market note. "Although TCC's offer is below our fair value (estimate) of S$10.48, we believe most investors will likely accept TCC's offer. TCC looks set to control F&N."

Jason Hughes, head of premium client management at IG Markets Singapore, agreed.

"It is clear now that TCC have made a significant enough move in raising their offer and purchasing stock in the open market to allow us to comfortably call this as game over for this takeover battle," he said.

"It seems unlikely that we would get another player entering this at this late stage, particularly as TCC now own over 40 per cent of F&N. So existing shareholders now have to decide whether to accept this TCC offer or not," he told AFP.

"I think enough shareholders will accept this revised offer, especially as it is now a one-horse race."

Monday's auction was called by a Singapore share market watchdog after TCC Assets and OUE sought several extensions to revise their offers for F&N, causing uncertainly among its shareholders.