Could the ThaiBev move trigger a bidding war for Asia Pacific Breweries?

Could the ThaiBev move trigger a bidding war for Asia Pacific Breweries?

Heineken could be on the brink of a bidding war for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) after its partner, Fraser & Neave, received a counter offer for its direct stake in the JV.

F&N said today (7 August) it has received an offer from Kindest Place Groups, run by ThaiBev's owner's son-in-law, to buy its direct stake of 7.3% in APB at SGD55 (US$44.33) per share. The offer is SGD5 per share higher than Heineken's offer, submitted last month.

The deadline for the offer closes a week on Thursday (16 August), F&N said.

In a filing, F&N said its board will "review and evaluate the offer". But it added: "Shareholders should note that there is no certainty at the time of this announcement that any transaction or agreement will be entered into in respect of the offer." 

Kindest Place already has a 3.4% stake in APB, after agreeing a deal last month to buy Oversea-Banking Chinese Corps' stake in the Tiger brewer. The owner of ThaiBev, Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, owns 24.1% of Fraser & Neave.

Heineken will be eyeing the latest deal closely, as it is still waiting for final approval to secure full control of APB. On Friday, F&N said it had approved Heineken's offer to buy it out of the joint-venture. However, F&N still has to get shareholders approval for the deal. 

A spokesperson for the Amsterdam-based brewer was unavailable for comment as just-drinks went to press.

Analysts at UBS estimated that, should Heineken come back with another offer for F&N's stake in APB, it would be able to go to around SGD65 per share. 

"The Heineken brand is 30% of APB’s volume and is a key growth/profit driver, so ThaiBev/Kindest probably want to work with Heineken," the analysts said. "ThaiBev/Kindest could also potentially bid for F&N, getting a controlling stake in APB."

Heineken and F&N jointly own Asia Pacific Investment Pte Ltd, which holds around 65% of APB. Heineken owns around 9.5% of APB on its own, while F&N has about 7.3% of APB. With Kindest Place holding a 3.4% stake, the remaining 14.8% is publicly listed.

To read F&N's filing to the Singapore Stock Exchange, click here.