Thai tycoon gets yet another extension in F&N bid

A Thai billionaire Thursday got a new deadline to submit an improved bid for Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave in a drawn-out battle with an Indonesian rival that has been compared to a poker game.

TCC Assets -- controlled by Thai drinks tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi -- said in a statement emailed to the media 20 minutes before its 0930 GMT deadline expired that it had been granted an extension till January 15.

It was the fourth extension for TCC since its rival, an Indonesian consortium led by property firm Overseas Union Enterprise (OUE), tabled a higher counter offer for F&N in mid-November.

OUE's own deadline to revise its offer is due on Monday but it is widely expected that the firm will ask for an extension as well.

"It has become a game of poker, with at times quite childish behaviour," said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management for IG Markets Singapore.

"Extensions to deadlines keep being set the day after the other's latest expiry, and both sides keeping their final hand close to their chests," he told AFP.

"I think F&N and investors do believe an improved offer will be tabled by one or either party before the final deadline passes on Jan 21, where if no improvement is made neither offer could be extended any further."

F&N became a takeover target in September after selling off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken, which beat a rival proposal from Charoen.

But the F&N board has reacted coolly to both the TCC and OUE offers of Sg$8.7 billion ($7.1 billion) and Sg$13.1 billion ($10.90 billion), respectively, for the shares they do not own.

In a shareholder note issued in December, the board called OUE's bid "not compelling though fair".

The board added that the offer fell at the lower end of a valuation of Sg$12.35 billion to Sg$16.65 billion made by F&N's adviser JP Morgan Chase.

F&N is highly valued for its food and beverage, property and publishing operations, and its other shareholders are holding out for more money from the Thais and Indonesians.

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