Duane Morris leads for Heineken in tussle for Asian beer maker

Heineken has instructed Duane Morris’ Singapore joint venture to advise on its ongoing attempt to acquire all the remaining shares in Asia Pacific Breweries (APB), in a deal that could potentially turn into a bidding war.

Arfat Selvam, managing director of Duane Morris & Selvam, a joint venture established between the US firm and Singapore’s Selvam in 2011, is the lead partner in the firm’s transaction team advising Heineken.

The dutch beer group made an offer to acquire its Asia joint venture partner Fraser & Neave’s shares in APB for S$5.1bn (£2.6bn) last month. APB, the Singapore-headquartered producer of Tiger Beer, is a joint venture between Fraser & Neave and Heineken. Through the deal, Heineken aims to take full control of APB and strengthen its platform for growth in Asia.

Fraser & Neave has engaged Singaporean law firm Stamford Law for legal representation. The firm’s team on the deal is led by director Lean Min-Tze. Stamford Law’s senior director Lee Suet Fern is the wife of Fraser & Neave chairman Lee Hsien Yang, the younger son of Singapore’s minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

Prior to Heineken’s bid for APB, Thai Beverage Public Company had acquired 22 per cent stake in Fraser & Neave from Singapore’s OCBC and Great Eastern Holdings. Separately, Thai Beverage’s affiliated company Kindest Place also acquired more than 8 per cent of the shares in APB. The total value of the acquisitions was $3.8bn (£1.9bn). In this transaction, Thai Beverage and Kindest Place was advised by Singaporean firm WongPartnership, while the sellers were represented by Singaporean firm Rajah & Tann.

In a surprise move, on 7 August, Kindest Place made a new, unsolicited bid to buy up Fraser & Neave’s 7.3 per cent stake in APB at a 10 per cent higher price per share than Heineken’s offer. The bid came after Fraser & Neave had agreed to sell its direct and indirect stakes in APB to Heineken and is widely expected to put a new spin on the race for taking control of the prized brewery.

Background to this deal:

Heineken has a longstanding relationship with Allen & Overy, with London corporate partners Alan Paul and Alun Eynon-Evans advising it on the joint acquisition of drinks company Scottish & Newcastle with Carlsberg in 2007 (18 October 2007).

For updates on firms’ transactional mandates, see the new Latest Deals page