SINGAPORE: Heineken NV has launched a S$5.1bil counterbid for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), trumping a surprise offer for the maker of Tiger Beer by a Thai billionaire and setting the stage for a two-way battle.
The fight for APB comes amid a wave of industry consolidation and steady growth for emerging-market beer sales.
The S$3.8bil bid for stakes in APB and Singapore food and beverage conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N) by companies linked to Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi would give his beer empire more exposure to South-East Asian markets and eclipses all previous overseas deals by a Thai group.
Heineken, the world’s No. 3 brewer, reacted quickly to the Thai intrusion earlier this week.
Asia is a key revenue driver for the Dutch brewer at a time of sluggish growth in the Americas and declining sales in its home market of Western Europe.
“People were expecting something from either Heineken or Kirin, but how fast Heineken moved is the surprising thing,” said Andrew Chow, head of research at UOB-Kay Hian in Singapore.
F&N owns 40% of APB while Heineken already holds 42% of the beer maker, a stake that it treasures given Asia’s fast-growing beer market. Japan’s Kirin Holdings owns a 14.7% stake in F&N.
Heineken said it would acquire F&N’s direct and indirect stakes in APB, one of the biggest Asia-Pacific breweries, putting a S$50-per-share bid on the table.
That tops a S$45-a-share offer for APB proposed by a company linked to Charoen.
The action began on Monday when Singapore’s second-biggest bank, OCBC, disclosed that it had received a bid for its stakes in F&N and APB, an ownership interest it held since 1948. OCBC did not identify the suitor.
OCBC’s sale of its non-banking assets has long been suspected, even though the bank has a heavy cash cushion.
The question of how real the bid was lingered until late on Wednesday night when companies linked to Charoen announced their offer. — Reuters
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