Former Carlsberg’s Partner ‘ThaiBev’ to Expand Globally

Operated by one of Thailand’s richest business families ‘Sirivadhanabhakdi’, Thai Beverage Plc is persisting in a bidding war to take over Fraser & Neave Ltd and Asia Pacific Brewery in Singapore. The former Danish brewer Carlsberg’s joint venture partner ‘ThaiBev’ is now entering the international business battlefield.

Sirivadhanabhakdi family’s patriarch, Mr. Charoen, first entered the Thai beer market in 1995 by setting up a joint venture with Carlsberg, which supplied the technology and expertise to build a brewery. It soon became clear that Mr. Charoen was more interested in using the plant to produce his new brand “Chang” than to make Carlsberg, or to help the Danish brewer gain a foothold in the Thai market. The relationship soured further before the two groups reached an out-of-court settlement a few years ago.

The company has decided to expand its business to the global market. It’s an encouraging sign for Thai businesses, most of which so far have been too focused on their domestic markets despite certain strengths that could work well for them abroad.

ThaiBev’s main foreign exposure to date has been its stock market listing in Singapore, but that only took place because the Stock Exchange of Thailand didn’t want to risk the wrath of anti-alcohol protesters. A few small whisky distilleries in Scotland are also part of Mr. Charoen’s empire.

The size of the potential deal by the brewer of Chang beer for a 24.1% stake in F&N, at around US$3 billion, might not seem large in global terms, but it is in line with the scale of acquisitions pursued by some other Thai companies.

There are other Thai companies that are gradually moving beyond home turf, such as Thai Union Frozen Products Plc and Siam Cement Plc.

Thai companies are becoming more aggressive as recent data compiled by Bloomberg show. It reported that Thai companies have spent a total of $20.4 billion buying overseas assets since the beginning of 2008.

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