UPDATE 1-Singapore watchdog sets Sunday deadline for F&N bids

Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:20am EST

* The two bidders for F&N can revise existing offers by Jan. 20

* SIC will begin auction process on Jan. 21 if necessary

* F&N shares close at S$9.70, vs highest bid of S$9.08 (Adds SIC deadline, background)

SINGAPORE, Jan 15 (Reuters) - A battle between a Thai billionaire and an Indonesian tycoon for control of Singaporean soft drinks-to-property group Fraser and Neave is a step nearer ending after a Sunday deadline was set for raised bids.

Investors in F&N expect to receive a substantially higher offer - the company's shares closed up 0.2 percent at S$9.70 on Tuesday to value it at S$14.0 billion ($11.4 billion) and remain well above the best bid yet made, S$9.08.

Singapore's Securities Industry Council said on Tuesday that if, after the deadline, a competitive environment still existed between a consortium backed by Indonesian Stephen Riady and TCC Assets Ltd - a Thai firm controlled by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi - then an auction will begin on Monday.

TCC Assets Ltd has offered S$8.88 per F&N share to acquire stock it does not already own. The consortium led by Riady's Overseas Union Enterprise is willing to pay S$9.08.

The Sunday deadline is a day ahead of final dates set by the two groups for their respective takeover bids.

SIC said if one party made a revised bid in any auction on Monday, Jan. 21, the other bidder can announce its own revised offer on Tuesday, Jan. 22.

Charoen is F&N's largest shareholder with a 34.2 percent stake, held through TCC Assets Ltd and Thai Beverage PCL .

Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings Co Ltd, F&N's second-biggest shareholder with a 14.8 percent stake, has given conditional support to the Overseas Union group.

It will offer to buy F&N's food and beverage business for S$2.7 billion if the Overseas Union group's bid is successful. ($1 = 1.2264 Singapore dollars) ($1 = 1.2252 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Eveline Danubrata and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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