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Heineken seeks to thwart Thais with $4.1 billion Asia brewer bid

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Hum    6,930

(Reuters) - Heineken NV (HEIN.AS) launched a S$5.1 billion ($4.1 billion) bid to take control of Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd (APB) (APBB.SI), seeking to push out a Thai billionaire and would-be partner and setting up a battle for the maker of Tiger Beer.

The fight for APB comes amid a wave of industry consolidation and steady growth in emerging-market beer sales, although APB's ownership structure makes this among the most complicated assets to buy.

Analysts said Heineken's S$50 per share offer would not be the final play, with rivals Thai Beverage PCL (TBEV.SI) and Japan's Kirin Holdings Co Ltd (2503.T) unlikely to readily let the world's third-largest brewer take control of a beer empire stretching from Mongolia to New Zealand.

Heineken's offer on Friday completed a frenetic week for APB and Fraser and Neave Ltd (FRNM.SI), a Singapore conglomerate whose joint venture with Heineken has a 65 percent controlling stake in APB.

The action began on Monday when Singapore bank OCBC (OCBC.SI) said it had received a bid for its stakes in F&N and APB, an ownership interest it held since 1948.

Companies linked to Thai billionaire and Thai Bev founder Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi emerged on Wednesday as the bidders, agreeing to pay S$3.8 billion for a 22 percent of F&N and 8.5 percent in APB at S$45 per share, the former set to eclipse all previous overseas deals by a Thai group.

Kirin holds 14.7 percent of F&N.

Heineken's offer is to buy out F&N's interest in APB. If successful, it would then pay a further S2.4 billion to buy out minority shareholders, bringing the total bill to S$7.5 billion ($6.0 billion).


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