F&N is likely going to ThaiBev

F&N is likely going to ThaiBev

ThaiBev is poised to take control of Fraser & Neave after rival bidder Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE) this week stepped out of the race to acquire the Singapore conglomerate.

ThaiBev-controlled TCC Assets' SGD9.55-per-share offer was just too high for OUE, bringing the long-running fight over the destiny of F&N closer to an end. Well, almost an end. Still at large, according to the Wall Street Journal, is what Japanese brewer Kirin will do with its 14.8% stake in F&N.

Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, who owns Chang brewer ThaiBev, should finally get full control of F&N after losing out to Heineken in a tussle over Tiger brewer Asia Pacific Breweries.

Reuters said the planned takeover will allow Charoen to build an “empire” on the back of his drinks and property assets and quoted a person involved in the deal saying Charoen was “ecstatic” after OUE withdrew.

It also said the takeover will mean Charoen's son, Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, can cut his teeth after being named ThaiBev president and CEO in 2008.

“Thailand's richest gets richer,” was how Bloomberg's Businessweek put it, adding that ThaiBev's shares hit record highs on Monday. The acquisition will allow Charoen to distribute F&N brands in Thailand, thus further increasing his wealth, it said.

“He is a savvy businessman and a street-smart negotiator,” an analyst said of Charoen. “In this takeover tussle, he kept his cards to his chest. Patient and decisive, that’s how I would describe him.”

One Thai commentator told the Nation that ThaiBev's first priority after the takeover will be to distribute overseas products from subsidiary Serm Suk. He also said the recent appreciation of the baht could lead to more overseas M&A activity coming out of Thailand.

Whatever does happen in the future, it seems as if this episode should finally come to a close, barring any last-minute hitches. It has been six months since a “mystery bidder” swooped for stakes in F&N and Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), sparking Heineken's dash for APB. Time now for the companies to lick their battle scars, and plan their next assault.