The Straits Times
Published on Nov 21, 2012

Where are S'pore's white knights?


THE Fraser & Neave (F&N) saga has taken another turn with the latest counter offer by Overseas Union Enterprise, which has also secured the blessing of Kirin Holdings - F&N's second-largest shareholder - in exchange for the food and beverage business ("OUE makes $13.1 billion offer for F&N"; last Friday).

It appears this home-grown company that has been around for more than a century will not only be controlled by foreign parties, but its businesses could also be sold piecemeal.

While this no doubt unlocks value for the company's shareholders, I cannot help but feel sorry as a citizen, especially with the loss of Singaporean control over other home-grown brands like Raffles Hotel, Robinsons and Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) in recent years.

Indeed, entrepreneurs like the late OCBC Bank chairman Tan Chin Tuan had a vision of world-class Singapore companies built on solid foundations.

Companies like OCBC, F&N, Raffles Hotel and Malayan Breweries (now known as APB), where he once stood at the helm as chairman, were all part of that vision.

I wish bold, enterprising Singaporean entrepreneurs in the tradition of Dr Tan will now step up and continue where he has left off.

Let F&N be the last of the home-grown companies that we lose control of, and let this be the beginning of new world-class, rock-solid Singapore companies.

Sai Min Chow