* Charoen increases offer price to S$9.55 from S$8.88
* TCC Assets, ThaiBev own 40.45 pct of F&N
* Overseas Union-led Group had bid S$9.08/share
* End game near for biggest corporate battle in Southeast
By Eveline Danubrata and Saeed Azhar
SINGAPORE, Jan 19 Thai billionaire Charoen
Sirivadhanabhakdi increased his offer for Fraser and Neave Ltd
(F&N) to S$9.55 per share, valuing the Singapore
property and drinks firm at nearly S$13.8 billion ($11.3
billion), to fend off a rival bid.
Charoen acquired an additional 90.8 million shares, or a 6.3
percent stake in F&N, at S$9.55 each on Friday.
The move raised Charoen's total stake in F&N - held through
TCC Assets Ltd and Thai Beverage PLC - to 40.45
percent, including acceptances from shareholders, TCC said in a
statement issued in the early hours on Saturday. Charoen's
previous offer was S$8.88 per share.
The end game is near for the four-month-long battle in the
largest corporate acquisition in Southeast Asia.
A group led by Singapore property firm Overseas Union
Enterprise Ltd had unexpectedly made a
S$9.08-per-share counterbid for F&N in November, after Charoen
offered in September to acquire F&N stock that he did not
At stake is a 130-year-group with property assets worth more
than S$8 billion as well as soft drinks, dairy and publishing
Thailand's third-richest man, worth $6.2 billion, is pitted
against Overseas Union's chairman, Stephen Riady, who is also
the president of the Lippo group of companies founded by his
father Mochtar Riady.
The fight for F&N has seen Charoen extend his earlier offer
seven times and the Overseas Union group twice. The multiple
extensions have tested the patience of F&N shareholders.
Singapore's Securities Industry Council had ruled that if
neither party has declared its offer final by 5:30 p.m. on Jan.
20, an auction will kick off on Jan. 21.
F&N's independent financial advisor JP Morgan had previously
said its sum-of-the-parts valuation of F&N is S$8.58 to S$11.56
per share. F&N stock last traded at S$9.58.
Kirin Holdings Co Ltd, F&N's second-biggest
shareholder with a stake of around 14.8 percent, has given its
conditional support to the Overseas Union group.
The Japanese brewer will offer to buy F&N's food and
beverage business for S$2.7 billion if the group's bid is
successful. JP Morgan's valuation of the unit is S$1.88 billion
to S$3.82 billion.
If Charoen wins control of F&N, analysts say he is likely to
pursue cross-selling opportunities. This means he may tap F&N's
distribution network in Singapore and Malaysia to sell his
products, and he can market F&N brands in Thailand, where he
already has an edge.
Charoen's Thai Beverage brews Chang Beer, second in Thailand
in terms of market share by sales volume, on top of producing
spirits, energy drinks and instant coffee. Charoen also has a
sprawling property empire under TCC Land.
F&N is the leader in the soft drinks markets in Malaysia and
Singapore, with a 31.3 percent and 21.4 percent market share,
respectively, according to research firm Euromonitor.