Kirin, F&N line up advisers as Singapore brewery battle heats up

Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:37am EDT
 
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By Saeed Azhar and Denny Thomas

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Japan's Kirin Holdings (2503.T: Quote) and Singapore's Fraser and Neave (FRNM.SI: Quote) have hired investment banks to advise them through the takeover battle for a prized Asian beer maker, adding to signs that a bidding war will intensify in the coming days.

Kirin has tapped Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE: Quote) to help defend its turf in a two-way fight for Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) APBB.SI, sources familiar with the matter said on Tuesday, showing for the first time that the Japanese company will not sit quietly while its rivals move in to wrest control of the maker of Tiger beer.

Last week, companies linked to a Thai billionaire agreed to pay S$3.8 billion ($3.02 billion) to acquire stakes in F&N and its affiliate APB from Singapore bank OCBC. That forced APB shareholder Heineken NV (HEIN.AS: Quote) to launch a $6 billion counter-bid for the beermaker.

Kirin, which indirectly owns part of APB through its stake in F&N, could try to block an attempt for control of the Singapore conglomerate, sources said.

"All options are on the table," said one of the sources with direct knowledge of the deal. "As a major shareholder of F&N they have a lot more say."

It was unclear whether Kirin wants to launch a counter-bid for F&N, which analysts have mentioned as a possible break-up candidate. The Singapore conglomerate earned 59 percent of its revenue last year from its food and beverage business and 34 percent from property.

But Kirin, with its near 15 percent stake in F&N, would want to have a say if the battle for F&N leads to a break-up, said the sources, who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Kirin and Deutsche Bank declined to comment.   Continued...

 
A glass of Kirin Beer is pictured at a tasting room of the Kirin Brewery Company's factory in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan in this March 2, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao/Files