TEXT-S&P Thai Bev rating unaffected by TCC's higher bid

Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:53am EST

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency)

Jan 22 - Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that its rating on Thai Beverage Public Co. Ltd. (BBB/Watch Neg/--; axA/Watch Neg/axA-2) is not affected by related party TCC Group's increased bid for shares in Singapore-based conglomerate Fraser & Neave Ltd. (F&N).

We will evaluate the credit implications for Thai Bev of any future related-party transactions between the company and TCC if the transaction with F&N closes. In particular, we will assess how the integration of the different operations of F&N could influence Thai Bev's business and financial risk profiles. We will also seek more clarity about Thai Bev's plan to reduce its debt over the next 24 months, its dividend policy, and the likelihood of further debt-funded acquisitions.

Thai Bev's leverage increased substantially following a debt-funded acquisition of a 29% stake in F&N in 2012. The company financed this acquisition using a Singapore dollar 3.3 billion syndicated loan it obtained in December. Its ratio of debt to debt plus equity increased to 62.8% as of Sept. 30, 2012, from 27.2% as of Dec. 31, 2011.

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