Australia Markets closed

Heineken ups bid for Tiger Beer maker to fend off Thai rival

Cans of Tiger beer (top L), brewed by Asia Pacific Breweries, are displayed alongside others, including Dutch beer Heineken (top R), at a convenience store in Singapore in July 2012. Dutch brewing giant Heineken agreed to a final offer of Sg$53 a share for Singapore's APB to fend off a Thai rival and gain control of Asia's fast-growing beer market.

Dutch brewing giant Heineken Friday agreed to a final offer of Sg$53 a share for Singapore's Asia Pacific Breweries to fend off a Thai rival and gain control of Asia's fast-growing beer market.

The Amsterdam-based group added it had inked a definitive agreement with Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave's board to "irrevocably recommend" the proposed deal.

"Heineken today announced it has agreed a final offer of Sg$53 per APB share for Fraser and Neave's entire stake in APB," for a total cash consideration of Sg$5.6 billion ($4.4 billion/3.6 billion euros), Heineken said in a statement.

"The total cash consideration to F&N under the final offer will be Sg$5.6 billion, an increase of Sg$307 million compared to Heineken's previous offer made on 20 July, 2012," it said.

"Heineken will not increase its final offer and believes that it provides compelling value to both F&N and APB shareholders," the company said.

F&N which directly and indirectly owns 40 percent in APB had previously accepted an offer from long-time partner Heineken to acquire its stake for Sg$50 a share or Sg$5.1 billion.

F&N's board accepted the offer and agreed to recommend it to shareholders, but Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's Thai Beverage and a company owned by his son-in-law, Kindest Place, made rival bids.

Kindest Place offered to buy F&N's 7.3 percent direct stake in APB for Sg$55 a share -- 10 percent more than the original Heineken proposal.

At the same time, Thai Beverage has steadily built up its stake in F&N, raising it from 24 percent to 26.4 percent, giving the firm a bigger say on the Heineken offer.

Both F&N and APB, the maker of Tiger Beer, requested trading to halt earlier Friday before the Singapore Exchange opened, citing a "pending release of an announcement" as the reason.

Heineken already owns 42 percent of APB and is seeking full control in a bid to expand its presence in the fast-growing Asian market.

"When the proposed transaction is completed, the Heineken group will hold a 81.6 percent stake in APB and gain control of APB's business," Heineken said.

"I am pleased that F&N's board has agreed that our increased offer, which is now final, represents excellent value for F&N and APB shareholders," Heineken's chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said.