Thai brewer in $7B offer for drinks conglomerate

September 13, 2012 - 2:34 AM

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai Beverage said Thursday it is offering $7.2 billion for control of Asian drinks conglomerate Fraser & Neave Ltd., stepping up a battle with Heineken NV for ownership of Tiger Beer and other popular regional brews.

The Thai company, controlled by billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, is offering to pay Singapore dollars 8.88 a share for the 70 percent of Singapore-listed Fraser & Neave it doesn't already own. That would be a total outlay of S$8.8 billion ($7.2 billion).

Charoen and Heineken have been vying for control of the Tiger Beer brewer, Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd., which is currently jointly owned by Fraser & Neave and Heineken.

Heineken last month raised its offer for a controlling stake in APB to nearly $4.5 billion after Thai Beverage scooped up sizeable stakes in both APB and Fraser & Neave.

Beer consumption has been growing rapidly in Asia as incomes rise, making the Tiger Beer brewer an attractive acquisition.

Heineken said in a statement that it was reviewing Thai Beverage's latest move. It had no other comment.

Heineken currently has a 41.9 percent stake in APB through a direct 9.5 percent shareholding and an indirect shareholding of 32.4 percent that is held through its joint venture with Fraser & Neave. The Singapore conglomerate, which has been in business with Heineken for the past 80 years, owns 39.7 percent of APB via the joint venture and a 7.3 percent direct stake.