Thai tycoon wins control of Singapore's Fraser and Neave

SINGAPORE (REUTERS) - Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi has raised his stake in Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N) to more than 50 percent, turning his offer to buy the rest of the Singapore property and drinks conglomerate unconditional.

Thailand's third-richest man now holds a near 51 percent stake in F&N through TCC Assets Ltd and Thai Beverage PCL after buying more shares in the open market, according to a stock market filing late on Wednesday.

Mr Charoen, whom Forbes estimates to be worth US$6.2 billion (S$ 7.7 billion), is now set to take full control of the 130-year-old company in Southeast Asia's biggest acquisition.

The tycoon had increased his offer for F&N shares he does not own to S$9.55 a share, valuing the company at S$13.75 billion and trumping a rival bid from a group led by Singapore-listed property firm Overseas Union Enterprise Ltd.

F&N shareholders have until Feb. 18 to accept or reject the offer.

Thai Beverage shares jumped 8 percent to a record S$0.535 in Singapore trading on Wednesday as traders expect the F&N acquisition to boost the company's growth. F&N's shares last traded at S$9.56.

Mr Charoen is likely to tap F&N's network in Singapore and Malaysia to distribute Chang Beer, brewed by Thai Beverage, as well as spirits, energy drinks and instant coffee. In Thailand, where he already has an edge, Mr Charoen may in turn market F&N's brands.

F&N's board of directors said on Tuesday they will step down to make way for Mr Charoen to have a greater say in the Singapore company's future.

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