August 7, 2014 / 4:22 AM / in 3 years

Singapore-listed Frasers' $2.4 bln play for Australand in the balance

SYDNEY, Aug 7 (Reuters) - A $2.4 billion bid by Frasers Centrepoint Ltd for Australia’s Australand Property Group was hanging in the balance on Thursday after the Singaporean bidder said it did not yet have enough shareholder support for the deal to succeed.

Frasers, backed by Thai beer billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, needs approval from owners of at least 50 percent of Australand’s shares to declare the offer, which closes at 0900 GMT on Thursday, unconditional.

But in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange about five hours before the deadline for what would be the country’s fifth-largest takeover so far in 2014, Frasers said it had approvals from owners of just 39.5 percent of Australand’s shares.

The uncertainty will feed speculation Australand’s biggest shareholder, larger rival Stockland Corp Ltd, may make a last minute bid. Stockland, which has 19 percent of Australand, made an approach to the takeover target before Frasers made its bid.

“Stockland will come in for at least one more, higher bid,” CLSA analysts said in a recent research note.

Stockland declined comment and Frasers did not disclose whether Stockland was among the Australand shareholders to vote for its offer.

Australia is having a bumper year for M&A as international buyers tap the country’s array of well established businesses in mature markets. Transactions announced in Australia totalled $79 billion in the six months to June 30, compared to $45 billion in the first half last year, according to J.P. Morgan.

Frasers is 59 percent owned by Charoen’s investment company TCC Assets Ltd and 29 percent owned by his Thai Beverage PCL .

Australand shares were up 0.6 percent at A$4.465, just under the A$4.48 offer price from Frasers.

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Michael Urquhart

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