November 7, 2012 / 11:11 AM / in 5 years

UPDATE 1-OUE to decide on F&N bid by mid-Nov, appoints advisers

* OUE names Credit Suisse, Merrill Lynch as advisers

* Thai offer lapses on Thursday, likely to be extended

* F&N shares close at S$9.15, above Thai offer of S$8.88

By Eveline Danubrata and Kevin Lim

SINGAPORE, Nov 7 (Reuters) - Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd (OUE) said it will decide by mid-November whether or not it will bid for Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N), one day before an existing takeover offer by a Thai billionaire lapses.

The sabre-rattling by OUE, a hotel and property group controlled by Indonesia’s Lippo Group, may spur Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi to sweeten his S$12.8 billion ($10.4 billion) offer to buy out the Singapore property-to-beverage conglomerate.

The billionaire had already extended an original Oct. 29 deadline for his offer of S$8.88 a share, due to the low level of acceptance by F&N shareholders.

Shares in F&N have been trading above the Thai offer, indicating the stock market is expecting the Thais to up their game or a counter-bid that surpasses it. The stock closed 0.7 percent higher at S$9.15 on Wednesday.

The Thai offer, made by a group headed by Charoen, lapses on Thursday but will almost certainly be extended, as his companies would otherwise be barred from making a subsequent bid for a period of up to 12 months under Singapore laws.

Charoen-linked firms including Thai Beverage PCL already control about 36 percent of F&N, whose businesses include properties and soft drinks and dairy products. Japanese food and beverage firm Kirin Holdings Co Ltd owns almost 15 percent of F&N.

“Following discussions with the Securities Industry Council (SIC), OUE will clarify its intentions no later than Nov. 15, 2012 by either announcing a firm intention to make an offer for F&N or declaring its intention not to make an offer for F&N,” OUE said in a filing to the stock exchange.

OUE said it has appointed Credit Suisse and Merrill Lynch as financial advisers and is awaiting their recommendations.

Singapore’s Business Times newspaper reported earlier that the Thais may have asked the SIC to issue a “put up or shut up” order on OUE, forcing the company to issue a statement.

OUE on Wednesday reported a 20 percent rise in third-quarter net profit to S$23.8 million. The firm had net assets of S$3.1 billion as at end-September, with cash and cash equivalents of S$460.7 million. (Reporting by Eveline Danubrata and Kevin Lim; Editing by Ryan Woo)

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