Thai tycoon Charoen secures over 90% of Singapore beverage firm F&N

SINGAPORE (AFP) - A Thai tycoon has acquired over 90 per cent of Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N) as its takeover offer closed, breaching a threshold that allows him to delist the company.

TCC Assets, controlled by Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, said in a statement issued late on Monday that it now owns 90.32 per cent of F&N at the conclusion of its offer, including acceptances by shareholders. With the 90 per cent ownership threshold breached, Mr Charoen now has the option to delist F&N from the Singapore Exchange, but the statement was silent on the tycoon's next move.

"We cannot comment on that right now," a TCC spokesman told AFP when asked about plans to delist the company.

TCC Assets offered to buy F&N shares it did not already own at S$9.55 apiece, valuing the drinks, property and publishing conglomerate at S$13.75 billion in what the local media described as the biggest takeover in Singapore's corporate history.

Shareholders were given until Monday to accept the offer.

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

F&N became a takeover target after it sold off its most prized asset, Tiger Beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries, to Dutch giant Heineken in September last year. It still has lucrative beverages, property and publishing operations.

Mr Charoen's takeover bid got a major boost early this month when Japanese beverage giant Kirin decided to sell its entire 15 per cent stake in F&N to the Thais. Kirin had sided with OUE at the start of the bidding process.

While shareholders were accepting its offer, TCC Assets was also steadily snapping up F&N shares in the open market to increase its stake.

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