SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings TEM.UL has sold its stake of roughly 1.4 percent in Asia Pacific Breweries APBB.SI to Heineken (HEIN.AS), sources said on Tuesday, potentially stopping the Dutch brewer's Thai rival from blocking the takeover.
APB shares soared 4.8 percent to a record S$53 in Singapore trading on Tuesday after Heineken sweetened its bid for the maker of Tiger Beer to $6.35 billion to fend off Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, who wants to expand Thai Beverage's (TBEV.SI) footprint in Southeast Asia.
Heineken, which raised its offer for Singapore conglomerate Fraser and Neave's (FRNM.SI) stake in APB to S$53 a share last week from S$50, is seeking control of the brewer to gain a larger slice of one of the last beer markets that is still growing rapidly.
The Dutch brewer's new offer has placed the spotlight back onto Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, Thailand's second-richest man, and his son-in-law's company Kindest Place which offered to buy F&N's direct stake of 7.3 percent in APB for S$55 a share.
A Temasek spokeswoman confirmed that it had sold its stake in APB but did not identify the buyer. According to stock exchange data there was a married deal of 3.85 million APB shares at S$53.
Sources said this trade was between Temasek and Heineken.
By buying Temasek's stake of about 1.4 percent in APB, Heineken may be trying to block another Thai advance, other sources familiar with the deal told Reuters.
Kindest Place already has 8.6 percent of APB so if it had bought Temasek's stake, the Thai family would have held about 10 percent of APB, which could prevent Heineken from delisting APB.
"Heineken has said clearly this is the final price they're offering and they won't raise it, so the market sees this as the price cap in absence of any other major development," said Goh Han Peng, analyst at DMG & Partners.
"All eyes will be on Kindest Place or ThaiBev's next moves, but we believe a competing offer for APB by Kindest is unlikely given the financial resources required," Goh said.
Heineken's latest offer gained the approval from F&N's board and came with commitment from F&N not to solicit, engage in talks or accept any alternative offer or proposal for its interests in APB.
"The sale of F&N's stakes in APB in its entirety to Heineken at the improved price would better maximise overall returns for F&N shareholders," F&N Chairman Lee Hsien Yang said in a statement on Saturday.
F&N, which stands to gain S$4.77 billion from the disposal of APB, could pay out special dividends and see upside in its stock from reinvestment, CIMB Research said.
F&N shares fell slightly to S$8.35 on Tuesday.
However, the conglomerate's earnings will likely decline if APB is sold, Nomura said, adding that the beer maker accounted for about 48 percent of the group's earnings for the nine months ended June.
Among Southeast Asian brewers, APB is the sixth-largest in terms of sales volume across the Asia Pacific region, behind San Miguel Corp (SMC.PS) of the Philippines in number one spot and ThaiBev in fourth, according to Euromonitor's latest data for 2011.
Additional reporting by Eveline Danubrata; Editing by Ryan Wooa and David Cowell