The Dutch beer giant Heineken NV said Friday that it had launched a $4.1-billion (5.1-billion-Singapore-dollar) bid for Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries Ltd, one of the largest brewers in South-East Asia.
The takeover attempt set up a showdown with Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi and his family, who this week moved to buy an 8.4-per-cent stake in Asia Pacific Breweries and 22 percent in another Singapore company, Fraser and Neave Ltd (F&N), which has a sizeable holding in Asia Pacific Breweries (APB).
Heineken, which already has direct and indirect stakes of 42 percent in Asia Pacific Breweries, offered 50 Singapore dollars per share for the stock it does not own.
The offer came two days after companies linked to Charoen bought shares in Fraser and Neave and Asia Pacific Breweries from Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp for 3.2 billion Singapore dollars.
Those purchases put pressure on Heineken to protect its interests in Asia Pacific Breweries, with which it makes the popular Tiger beer.
Heineken said the offer was part of its expansion in the region and represented a premium of 8 Singapore dollars per share over Asia Pacific Breweries' Thursday closing price and 5 Singapore dollars per share over the offer centred around Charoen.
Trading in shares of the two Singapore companies was halted at the Singapore Exchange Friday after the Heineken announcement.
"We really value our partnership with F&N, which goes back over 80 years, but due to changes in the F&N and APB shareholding, the fabric of the partnership has changed," Heineken chairman and chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said.
"Heineken's offer is in line with the company's strategy to expand its presence in emerging markets," he said.
The deal would give Heineken direct access to important markets that include China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Heineken said.
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