The Nation



ThaiBev 'sees no need' to acquire more than 30 % of F&N

Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, chief executive officer of Thaibeverage said it's 'no need' to purchase more stake in F&N as its current 29.1-per-cent share is large enough for management control.

Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, chief executive officer of Thaibeverage said it's 'no need' to purchase more stake in F&N as its current 29.1-per-cent share is large enough for management control.

Thai Beverage, the company owned by Thailand's second-richest man Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, is most likely not to increase its interest in Fraser and Neave, pointing out that the current 29.1-per-cent stake is large enough for management control.

"No need," president and chief executive officer Thapana Sirivadhanabhakdi, Charoen's first son, said in an interview with Nation Group yesterday when asked whether ThaiBev intended to acquire more than 30 per cent of F&N. If the stake breached 30 per cent, it would need to launch a mandatory offer for F&N under Singaporean law.

"We are ready to learn more from and also to exchange information with F&N," said Thapana, adding that there were many brands in the Singaporean company's product portfolio.

Strategically, ThaiBev wants to step forward on the global stage, and not only in the region, with renowned Asian brands. In the food industry, Charoen Pokphand is held up as an example of a Thai firm going for the global market. ThaiBev should be considered Thailand's global beverage brand, he said.

"ThaiBev's aim will not only be to push our brands into the region, but also Asian brands into the global market," Thapana said.

Products, brands and access to end consumers are the keys to business success, said Thapana, adding that the group could use F&N's distribution network to spread its products around the region. In the meantime, many F&N products could be sold in the Thai beverage market, as the group has Serm Suk and Berli Jucker under its umbrella.

"This is not only an opportunity for the beverage business, but also for others such as logistics, for which we have the advantage of geographical location."

Asked the objective of the group's acquisition deal with F&N, he said it was a long-term strategy.

Thapana said F&N was a natural for the group's expansion goals, as it had its own production base and distribution networks. F&N was seen as a key driver to help ThaiBev to increase the proportion of its non-alcohol revenue.

Meanwhile, ThaiBev and related businesses are said to have approached several banks in Singapore to line up funding for a potential general offer for F&N, The Business Times reported yesterday.

The talks took place as F&N prepares to call a shareholders' meeting on September 28 to consider the sale of flagship brewing business Asia Pacific Breweries to Heineken.

The Business Times quoted unnamed sources as saying that an escalating battle for APB may lie ahead if ThaiBev secures enough financing to mount the takeover in time, and intends to stop F&N from closing the deal. Talks are still going on with banks.

ThaiBev is already F&N's largest shareholder with its stake of 29 per cent.

ThaiBev, Thailand's largest brewer, first bought into F&N in July for its beer and non-beer businesses, and there has been speculation that it would object to the sale of the APB stake.

Even if the Thai firm does not block the deal, it could be after a bigger say in F&N's future. The sale of APB is seen by many as the first step in the break-up of the conglomerate, which could see it realise the value of its other food and beverage, publishing and property assets.

Heineken, which controls 46.2 per cent in APB, has informed the Singapore Exchange that as of Friday it had acquired 183,000 additional shares in the open market, which accounted for 0.07 per cent of APB's shares. This increased the number of APB shares that Heineken owns, controls and agrees to buy to 221.98 million or 85.97 per cent.

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