F&N Rebuffs $1.1 Billion Bid for Hospitality, Residence Unit

Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N), the takeover target of a Thai tycoon, said it had rebuffed a S$1.4 billion ($1.14 billion) bid for its hospitality and serviced residence business.

Range of Fraser & Neave Ltd. (F&N) products
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Range of Fraser & Neave Ltd. (F&N) products

Overseas Union Enterprise , backed by Indonesia's Lippo Group, made a bid for the F&N unit, two sources with knowledge of the matter said, declining to be identified because the information is confidential.

The bid may still perplex Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi's $7.2 billion offer to take over the whole of the Singapore conglomerate. F&N's board is due to make its recommendation to shareholders on Thursday on whether to accept or reject the Thai offer.

"The bid could reinforce the idea that F&N's assets are not fully appreciated at least in the offer price," said Jit Soon Lim, an analyst at Nomura, who has a 'buy' rating and a S$10.19 target price on F&N stock.

"F&N has developed over many years a good brand franchise for its serviced residence business and they have underlying assets as well."

F&N will not respond to the S$1.4 billion offer for its hospitality and serviced residence business, the conglomerate said in a stock filing early on Wednesday without identifying the bidder.

F&N, which also has soft drinks, dairy and publishing segments, said the business is an integral part of its property arm and it is still considering Charoen's takeover offer.

The Singapore conglomerate agreed last month to sell its 40 percent stake in Tiger beer maker Asia Pacific Breweries to Heineken.

Overseas Union Enterprise, a Singapore hotel and property firm, declined to comment.

ThaiBev Shares

Shares of Thai Beverage , controlled by Charoen, surged as much as 11.5 percent after F&N said it had received a bid for its hospitality and serviced residence business. F&N shares were up 0.6 percent at S$8.93.

Companies linked to Charoen are collectively F&N's largest shareholder with a 33.5 percent stake. Japan's Kirin Holdings is F&N's second-biggest with nearly 15 percent.

In the last few weeks, units of British insurer Prudential have pared their F&N stake to about 4.8 percent from around 7.8 percent.

F&N's property portfolio has attracted the interest of Blackstone Group and global property companies, sources have told Reuters, while the beverage business could appeal to potential suitors such as Coca-Cola and Kirin.