Heineken’s APB takeover faces 11th hour threat

DUTCH beer group Heineken was hit yesterday by the threat of a late challenge to its crucial takeover of the maker of Tiger Beer.

Shares in the firm fell on reports that Thai drinks company ThaiBev is looking for a loan of 9bn Singaporean dollars (£4.6bn) to fund a purchase of Fraser & Neave (F&N), the Singaporean outfit set to sell its 40 per cent stake in Asia Pacific Breweries (APB) to Heineken.

Heineken announced last month that it had agreed a S$5.4bn deal with F&N bosses for its stake in APB, which makes Tiger and other beers popular in Asia.

The deal – due to be approved by F&N investors on 28 September – would give Heineken an 82 per cent holding in APB, triggering an automatic takeover bid.

However, buying out F&N would give ThaiBev the management control it needs to block the deal. Heineken’s purchase of APB is seen as crucial for the firm as its European operations stagnate. The drinks firm – the world’s third biggest – missed profit forecasts in the first half of the year due to a drop in beer sales in Western Europe.

However, its drawn-out purchase of APB has seen repeated threats from Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, the billionaire owner of ThaiBev.

The Thai firm bought a 29 per cent stake in F&N last month, forcing Heineken to raise its bid in an attempt to rush through the deal. Heineken and ThaiBev refused to comment.