Thai-Indonesian battle emerges for Singapore's F&N

The battle for Singapore conglomerate Fraser & Neave has heated up after a firm run by one of Indonesia's richest men offered more than $10 billion for the firm, setting up a fight with a Thai billionaire.

A consortium led by property developer Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE), chaired by Indonesia's Stephen Riady, said late Thursday it was launching a Sg$13.1 billion ($10.7 billion) offer for F&N, at $9.08 a share.

The bid trumps the Sg$8.7 billion, or Sg$8.88 a share, offer in September from TCC Assets, a Thai group controlled by beverage billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, for the F&N shares his group does not already own.

TCC has until November 22 to make a counter-offer.

OUE's offer came in the day that Dutch beer giant Heineken said it had completed its Sg$5.6 billion acquisition of F&N's 40 percent stake in Asia Pacific Breweries as part of its takeover of the Tiger Beer brand.

"F&N is a Pan-Asian consumer group with strong standing in property, (food and beverage), publishing and printing industries," Riady, son of Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady, said in a press statement announcing the bid.

He said combining the property portfolios of the two firms would "further strengthen OUE as a leading property player in Singapore and expand our footprint in Singapore and regionally".

OUE said that it had the backing of Japanese brewer Kirin Holdings, which holds about 14.8 percent of F&N and is interested in its food and beverage business.

However, IG Markets Singapore analyst Justin Harper said F&N shareholders would most likely be unimpressed with the offer price.

"While this betters the $8.88 deal from the Thais it is hardly a compelling offer," he said in a report.

"The Sg$13.1 billion price tag OUE has placed on F&N... still falls on the low side of the Sg$12bn-Sg$16bn valuation that F&N feels it is worth."

F&N shares surged more than two percent to a high of Sg$9.33 on Friday morning following OUE's bid.

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