Heineken extends deadline to buy Singapore brewer

Dutch beer giant Heineken on Friday gave Singapore food and beverage group Fraser and Neave (F&N) one more week to consider its $4.1 billion takeover offer for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB).

Heineken last week set a July 27 deadline for APB's parent to accept a buyout but agreed to a one-week extension amid rumours of a potential takeover battle for F&N's assets involving Thai Beverage and Japan's Kirin Holdings.

Apart from beer, F&N has major soft-drink and dairy assets along with book publishing and printing operations, condominiums, commercial property and serviced apartments.

APB, the maker of Tiger Beer, is F&N's crown jewel and a growing player in Asia's beer industry, which is experiencing strong growth while sales taper off in Europe and other industrialised markets.

Heineken and F&N have been longtime partners in Asia. Heineken currently owns 41.9 percent of APB, while F&N holds 40 percent. Kirin Holdings owns 15 percent of F&N.

In a statement posted on the Singapore Exchange website, F&N said it had "reached a mutual agreement with Heineken to extend the deadline for acceptance of the Heineken offer by one week from 27 July 2012".

"At the time of this announcement, there is no agreement between the parties on the terms of the Heineken offer and there is therefore no certainty that any transaction or agreement will be entered into," it said.

Heineken said in a statement issued in Amsterdam that it was determined to press its July 20 offer of Sg$50 a share for F&N's entire stake in the brewer, a premium of Sg$8 over its previous closing price.

Since then, APB shares have risen as high as Sg$52 and were trading at Sg$50 at midday.

Heineken said if it was "denied the ability to extend its offer to all APB shareholders, it will review all options available to protect its commercial interests".

Heineken's offer came after companies linked to Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi secured separate deals to buy a 22 percent stake in F&N and a 8.6 percent stake in APB.

Charoen's Thai Beverage has since moved to raise its stake in F&N to 23.9 percent, the Singapore conglomerate said Thursday.

Dow Jones Newswires quoted people familiar with the situation as saying that Japanese beverage giant Kirin Holdings, which has a 15 percent stake in F&N, could also enter the fray.

Jason Hughes, head of premium client management for IG Markets Singapore, said F&N had seen "multiple" parties looking at its assets.

"They don't need to rush, accept the first offer on the table," he said.

"The fact of the matter is the breakup of F&N's assets and splitting it up might actually give more value to shareholders rather than just going all in with one party."

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