Dutch brewer Heineken NV (HINKY.PK) is in talks with Fraser & Neave Ltd. (FNEVF.PK) about raising its $6 billion bid for the stake which it does not already own in Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd. or APB, media reported Friday, citing sources familiar with the matter. Heineken's offer is in line with its strategy to boost its presence in emerging markets.
Heineken holds a 42 percent stake in the maker of Tiger beer, while Fraser & Neave or F&N owns 40 percent.
Heineken is considering raising its offer to about S$53 or $42 a share from its current offer of S$50 per share to take full control of the firm, reports said, noting that a deal may be conditional on F&N not accepting a partial Thai bid.
Kindest Place Groups Ltd., linked to Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, has offered to buy 7.3 percent of APB from F&N for S$55 per share.
With a full control of the Tiger beer maker, Heineken reportedly is seeking to expand in faster-growing regions such as Southeast Asia amid weak consumer spending in the developed markets of Europe and the U.S.
It was on July 19 that Heineken offered to acquire F&N's stake in APB for a total of S$5.1 billion or $4.07 billion. The approach was after Charoen's Thai Beverage Public Co. Ltd. agreed to acquire the combined 22 percent stake of Singapore lender Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. or OCBC Bank, Great Eastern Holdings Ltd. and Lee Rubber Co. in F&N for S$8.88 per share.
Kindest Place then agreed to buy an 8.4 percent stake in APB for S$45 per share.
Thai Beverage has recently became F&N's largest shareholder after lifting its stake to 26.4 percent.
Heineken had also offered S$163 million for F&N's interest in the non-APB assets held by Asia Pacific Investment Private Limited or APIPL, a 50/50 joint venture between Heineken and F&N.
Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Heineken earlier said, "We really value our partnership with F&N which goes back over 80 years, but due to changes in the F&N and APB shareholding, the fabric of the partnership has changed. As a result, it is time for us to look ahead to the next chapter of our Asian business, in which Singapore will continue to be our regional headquarters and both the Heineken and Tiger brand will spearhead our brand portfolio in Asia."
The deal will enable Heineken to gain direct access to several important markets, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Trading of APB and F&N shares in Singapore was suspended on Friday pending an announcement.
In Amsterdam, Heineken shares are currently trading at 43.24 euros, down 0.55 euros or 1.27 percent.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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