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Thai tycoon wins majority control of Singapore’s F&N

A man reaches for a glass of Chang Beer in Singapore in this file photo. The beer, second in Thailand in terms of market share, is among the products of Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi’s company Thai Beverage.

TIM CHONG/REUTERS

A Thai tycoon has clinched majority control of Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave Ltd., making his offer to fully take over the company unconditional.

TCC Assets, owned by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said in a statement late Wednesday that its stake in F&N stands at 50.92 per cent after further purchases in the stock market and more shareholders accepting its offer.

With majority control now in the hands of the Thai parties, "accordingly, the F&N offer has become unconditional in all respects," the statement added.

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TCC Assets is offering to buy F&N shares it does not already own at $9.55 Singapore ($7.80 U.S.) apiece, valuing the drinks, property and publishing conglomerate at $13.75-billion Singapore ($11.13-billion U.S.).

The deadline for the rest of the shareholders to accept the offer was extended from Feb. 4 to Feb. 18, according to the statement.

Indonesia-led property firm Overseas Union Enterprise averted a bidding war earlier this month when it declined to match the offer by the Thais. OUE is linked to Indonesian tycoon Mochtar Riady.

Singapore's Straits Times newspaper has said if the takeover pushes through, it will be the biggest in the city-state's corporate history.

F&N became a takeover target after it sold off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken NV in September.

It still has lucrative beverages, property and publishing operations.

Analysts believe more shareholders are likely to accept the offer as it is the only bid on the table.

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The market, however, is closely watching whether Japanese brewer Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., which holds a 15-per-cent stake in F&N, will sell its interests or remain a minority shareholder.

Kirin had allied itself with OUE in the bidding war. Its 15-per-cent stake is worth more than $2.0 billion (Singapore) at the rate offered by TCC Assets.

Mr. Charoen's TCC Group has a real estate unit, and the tycoon also owns Thai Beverage, which sells Chang beer.

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