Heineken raises bid for Tiger beer brewer
UPDATED @ 04:25:42 PM 20-08-2012
SINGAPORE, Aug 17 — Heineken NV has raised its offer of more than US$6 billion (RM18 billion) for Fraser and Neave’s (F&N) stake in the maker of Tiger beer as it tries to fend off a Thai rival, a source close to the situation said today.
The Dutch brewer’s revised offer for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) of 53 Singapore dollars per share compares to its earlier bid of S$50 and a partial offer by the Thai billionaire’s group of S$55 per APB share.
Heineken, the world’s third biggest brewer, is seeking control of Asia Pacific Breweries to gain a larger slice of one of the last beer markets that is still growing rapidly.
But Heineken’s efforts have been complicated by Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Thailand’s second-richest man, as he tries to expand his Thai Beverage empire in the Southeast Asian market.
The source said Heineken had raised its offer for the 58 per cent of APB which it does not already own. That includes the 40 per cent of APB held by its long-time partner Fraser and Neave, a drinks and property conglomerate.
But it was not clear the new offer would seal the deal, the source said.
Both Heineken and F&N declined to comment.
Sources had earlier said a sweetened offer could depend on F&N not accepting the partial Thai bid. It was not clear whether the new offer was conditional.
ThaiBev recently became F&N’s largest shareholder with 26.4 per cent. Charoen’s son-in-law, through his group Kindest Place, separately offered to buy F&N’s direct 7.3 per cent stake in APB at S$55 per share.
“Heineken’s resolve to win APB seems to be very strong,” said Andrew Chow, head of research at UOB Kay Hian in Singapore.
“APB has an extensive distribution network and breweries. Its Tiger brand is also strong in Asia.”
The Thais have said they want to work with Heineken, but sources close to the situation say it would not be keen to cooperate with a competitor.
APB has had nearly 20 per cent annual earnings growth over the last decade.
The biggest brand APB brews is Heineken itself, accounting for 30 per cent of its volume, but it also makes Tiger, Bintang and Anchor and runs 30 breweries in countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia.
“Heineken just can’t afford to lose,” said one analyst who did not want to be quoted by name, although he said that even a higher offer could bring another bid from its rival - perhaps even as high as S$60.
“Still, it sounds like we are reaching the end-game,” he said.
Among Southeast Asian brewers, APB is the sixth-largest in terms of sales across the Asia Pacific region, behind San Miguel Corp of the Philippines in number one spot and ThaiBev in fourth, according to Euromonitor’s latest data for 2011.
Trading of APB and F&N shares in Singapore was suspended today pending an announcement.
Heineken had said its earlier offer of S$50 a share was a 45 per cent premium to the price of APB shares before it made its bid and the F&N board had agreed to recommend the bid to its shareholders.
“Heineken wants full control of Asia Pacific Breweries, while Charoen wants a piece of that growth and is positioning himself to gain handsomely if Heineken wants to buy him out in the future,” said an investment banking source in London.
ABP shares have jumped from under S$35 in mid-July before stake building began to S$50.57 at yesterday’s close. F&N shares, meanwhile, have risen from S$7.40 since mid-July to end at S$8.40 yesterday. Both have hit record highs in recent weeks.
The Heineken deal could prompt a breakup of F&N with Coca-Cola keeping an eye on its popular soft-drink 100PLUS, fruit juices, mineral water and dairy products unit, which could be hived off from the Singapore group’s property assets.
Goldman Sachs is advising F&N, while Citigroup and Credit Suisse are advisers to Heineken. Morgan Stanley and HSBC are advising the Thais. — Reuters