SGX wants F&N to declare listing intention by April 18

Street consensus continues to lean towards Fraser and Neave (F&N) being delisted, analysts said yesterday as Singapore Exchange (SGX) gave the company until April 18 to state its intentions.

"My expectation is that they will try to take out minority shareholders and take the company private," said Jonathan Foster, director of global special situations at Religare Capital Markets.

F&N, in which Thai tycoon Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi held a 90.3 per cent stake as at Feb 18, said that SGX will convert the stock's two-month-old trading halt into a suspension beginning on April 19 unless the company states that it plans to maintain its listing status.

"The company is considering its options with respect to its listing status and will make an appropriate announcement in due course," said F&N, a property and beverage conglomerate.

Under SGX rules, companies must maintain a public float of at least 10 per cent to remain listed.

The mainboard listing manual states that the exchange may allow an issuer three months, or longer at the exchange's discretion, to increase its free float if the issuer wishes to remain listed. Trading of F&N shares has been halted since Feb 19.

Mr Charoen, who controls listed beverage maker Thai Beverage Public Co, has been silent about his plans for F&N since he achieved his current shareholding on Feb 18 after a seven-month quest.

Representatives for Mr Charoen and ThaiBev declined to comment directly on the listing plans.

Analysts, however, expect F&N to be delisted.

Listing rules on issues such as interested-party transactions and minority rights may slow down the "signification reorganisation" that Mr Charoen is probably planning for F&N, Mr Foster said. "They won't want to do that with significant minority shareholders," he said.

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