Heineken takeover of Tiger Beer approved

Posted at 09/28/12 3:11 PM

SINGAPORE - Shareholders in the parent company of the Singapore-based brewer that makes Tiger Beer approved its takeover by Heineken Friday, increasing the Dutch giant's footprint in the growing Asian market.

The vote at Fraser and Neave (F&N) will see Heineken pay Sg$5.6 billion ($4.6 billion) for its 40 percent stake in Asia-Pacific Breweries (APB), which also makes the popular Bintang beer.

Amsterdam-based Heineken, which is seeking to expand its sales in the region as demand falls in western markets, already held 42 percent of APB.

Bottles of Tiger and Heineken beers are seen at a grocery store in Singapore in this July 20, 2012 file photo. / REUTERS

"I declare the resolution carried," F&N chairman Lee Hsien Yang said after 98.73 percent of shareholders voted for the deal.

A Thai faction in F&N led by beverage billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi had earlier emerged as a potential rival to Heineken but eventually gave its approval to the sale of APB.

Before Friday's meeting in Singapore, Heineken bought an additional 8.6 percent in APB held by Thailand's Kindest Place Groups, also linked to Charoen, for $961 million.

"Heineken are paying a pretty penny for APB, at about 35 times its current earnings, which is very high," Justin Harper, an analyst at IG Markets Singapore, told AFP.

"This shows how much it values APB and the brands it controls. Along with Tiger and Bintang, APB has an impressive 50 percent market share of beer sales in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore."

Heineken first announced its takeover bid for APB in July, when it offered to pay Sg$5.1 billion for F&N's stake in the brewer, or Sg$50 a share.

However, it was forced to raise the offer to Sg$5.6 billion in August after Thai Beverage and other companies linked to Charoen mounted a rival bid.

But on September 19, the Thai firms agreed to back Heineken's takeover, defusing a potential clash at Friday's meeting.

Analysts have said a stronger Asian presence is important for Heineken as demand wanes in Western Europe, its traditional market.

APB, which has breweries in 14 countries including China, reported in August that its revenues for the third quarter to June rose almost 10 percent to Sg$781.33 million from a year ago.

Beer consumption in nine of the 10 Southeast Asian countries totalled 6.84 billion litres in 2011, up more than six percent from 2010, with Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines leading the market, according to data from research firm Euromonitor.

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