April 1, 2023

DealBook: Heineken Offers $4.1 Billion for Asia Pacific Breweries Stake

HONG KONG–Heineken on Friday offered to pay more than $4 billion for a stake in Asia Pacific Breweries, one the region’s biggest brewers, trumping an offer made by a Thai rival earlier this week and highlighting the industry’s intense appetite for assets in fast-growing emerging markets.

The Dutch brewing giant offered $50 Singapore dollars, or $39.84, per share, for a 40 percent stake held by Fraser and Neave, a Singapore-listed conglomerate and longstanding partner of Heineken in the region.

The $5.1 billion Singapore dollar, or $4.1 billion, acquisition would considerably beef up Heineken’s existing 42 percent holding in Asia Pacific Breweries.

If successful, the bid would also trigger a requirement that Heineken makes a mandatory buyout offer to remaining shareholders of the Asian brewer. That would add as much as 2.4 billion Singapore dollars to the overall price tag, and underlines how eager Amsterdam-based Heineken is to expand in emerging markets.

Listed in Singapore, A.P.B. operates 30 breweries across Asia, including in far-flung counties such as Mongolia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Its brand portfolio boasts Tiger Beer and Bintang lager, some of the best known beers in the regional markets where they are sold.

‘‘If agreed, the offer will strengthen Heineken’s platform for growth in some of the world’s most exciting and dynamic economies with fast-growing populations,’’ Heineken said in a statement on Friday.

The Dutch company said a successful deal would give it ‘‘direct access to a number of important markets, including Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.’’

Heineken’s move to buy out A.P.B.’s remaining shareholders appears to have been triggered by an offer earlier this week by a Thai rival that was targeting stakes in A.P.B. and Fraser and Neave.

Thai Beverage, controlled by the Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, offered to buy 22 percent in Fraser and Neave for 2.78 billion Singapore dollars. At the same time a company called Kindest Place, reportedly controlled by a relative of Mr. Sirivadhanabhakdi, bid for stake of about 8 percent in A.P.B. That latter offer, of 45 Singapore dollars a share, is well below the 50 dollars that Heineken has put on the table, and it is unclear whether either of the Thai bidders will come back with a counteroffer.

Slowing growth in mature markets, rising costs and the growing popularity of low-carbohydrate beers and other drinks have put pressure on the world’s major brewers to consolidate, and prompted a spate of mergers and acquisitions across the sector over the past few years.

Among the most recent deals, Anheuser-Busch InBev, whose beer brands include Budweiser and Stella Artois, agreed last month to buy the half of the Mexican brewer Grupo Modelo that it does not already own for $20.1 billion.

Anheuser-Busch InBev itself was formed in 2008 when the Belgian-Brazilian brewing company InBev acquired Anheuser-Busch of the United States for around $52 billion.

SABMiller, a rival that was likewise forged via a merger of two brewing giants in 2002, last year agreed to a $10.15 billion takeover of Foster’s Group, the biggest beer company in Australia.

Heineken’s growth in recent years has also been boosted by a number of acquisitions, including the purchase of Femsa’s brewing operations in Mexico and Brazil two years ago for more than $5 billion, a partnership with United Breweries in India, and acquisitions and capacity investments in Africa.

Heineken is being advised by Credit Suisse and Citigroup.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/heineken-offers-4-1-billion-for-asia-pacific-breweries-stake/?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook: ING Outlines Strategy to Pay Back Government Bailout

Jan Hommen, chief of ING.Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos — ReutersJan Hommen, chief of ING.

7:42 p.m. | Updated

LONDON — The Dutch financial services group ING said Friday that it would not pay a dividend to shareholders until it had repaid all of the state aid it received during the recent financial crisis.

ING’s chief executive, Jan Hommen, said the bank’s priorities over the next two years also include increasing its core Tier 1 capital ratio — a measure of a bank’s ability to weather financial shocks — to 10 percent, from 9.6 percent at the end of September, despite rising regulatory costs.

Updating investors on the bank’s strategy, Mr. Hommen said ING was focused on repaying the bailout from the Dutch government. In 2008, the firm received 10 billion euros, or $12.8 billion, from local authorities, and still has to repay 3 billion euros.

ING did not say when it would repay the state aid, other than “as soon as possible.” It also has to split up its banking and insurance assets by the end of 2013 to comply with requirements attached to the bailout.

“Given the ongoing crisis in the euro zone and increasing regulatory capital requirements, we need to take a cautious approach and pay special attention to liquidity, funding and capital,” Mr. Hommen said in a statement. “In 2011, market circumstances became increasingly difficult and volatile, and we expect that to remain the case in the near future.”

The company’s stock had fallen 2 percent by the close of trading in Amsterdam on Friday. ING’s share price has fallen 20.5 percent over the last 12 months.

ING also announced that it expected to save 300 million euros a year by 2015 through so-called procurement initiatives, which will look to centralize purchasing across the firm to reduce costs.

The Dutch company wants to reduce its cost-income ratio — a measure of a bank’s profitability — to 50 to 53 percent by 2015. The figure was 55.8 percent at the end of the third quarter of 2011.

“By managing our balance sheet more efficiently, ING will increase returns and grow customer lending without increasing the balance sheet,” Mr. Hommen said.

Like other European financial institutions, ING has been reducing its exposure to the Continent’s sovereign debt crisis. The Dutch firm reduced its holdings in Southern European sovereign debt by 1.2 billion euros in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to a company statement.

Last year, ING reduced its total exposure to these debt-ridden countries by 4 billion euros, but still has approximately 2 billion euros of Southern European sovereign debt on its balance sheet.

On Thursday, ING announced that it was abandoning plans for an initial public offering of its combined Asian and European businesses, citing turbulence in the equity markets.

The firm said it was now considering a sale of its Asian business, but still planned to pursue a separate I.P.O. for its European arm.

“Given the uncertain economic outlook and turbulent financial markets, especially in Europe, ING has decided to explore other options for its Asian insurance and investment management business,” Mr. Hommen said in a statement.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=fa2fc54132177134f7ef219aac872d06

Hackers Impersonate Google to Snoop on Users in Iran

SAN FRANCISCO — Hackers passed themselves off as the Internet giant Google with the apparent goal of snooping on people using Google services in Iran, the company said.

It was the latest in a string of breaches that call into question the reliability of certificates that are supposed to verify the authenticity of Web sites. Such breaches make dissidents and human rights workers particularly vulnerable because they can allow repressive regimes, or supporters of those regimes, to spy on their online activities.

In this case, the attackers hacked into the site of a Dutch company, one of many that have the authority to issue the digital certificates, and obtained one that they used to impersonate Google. When users in Iran went to a Google site, including Gmail and Google Docs, they could be intercepted by the impostors in what is known as a man-in-the-middle attack.

In a statement posted late Monday night on its security blog, Google said those affected “were primarily located in Iran.” It did not offer further details.

The Web site certification firm, DigiNotar, revoked the fraudulent certificate as soon as the attack came to light, Google said.

F-Secure, a security firm, said on Tuesday that it had found evidence that hackers had left their mark on DigiNotar’s Web site, scrawling the digital equivalent of graffiti and calling themselves “Iranian Hacker.” But it said the pages in question had been on the site for years and were probably unrelated to the certificate problem.

Companies like Google are keen to reassure their customers that their online communications are secure, but breaches like this highlight the vulnerability of the certificate system.

Similar man-in-the-middle attacks have been used to get between e-commerce sites and their customers to steal credit card numbers and other personal information.

A range of government entities and private companies worldwide are authorized to issue authentication certificates. Another issuer was attacked earlier this year by a hacker who said he was a patriotic Iranian.

Security experts have been calling for an overhaul of the system. Earlier this year, Google proposed allowing Web site owners to specify which entities could issue certificates for their sites.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/technology/internet/hackers-impersonate-google-to-snoop-on-users-in-iran.html?partner=rss&emc=rss