Yeo's suitors have tough hurdle to clear

Controlling family has rebuffed bids to acquire the iconic drinks manufacturer

[SINGAPORE] Yeo Hiap Seng Ltd would be among the most alluring targets in Asia's booming drinks market if it weren't for its controlling family.

With a factory in China and sites planned for Cambodia and Indonesia, Yeo's offers acquirers a ready-made distribution network, said CMC Markets. The US$1.15 billion seller of soya bean milk and chilled melon tea has more than doubled its profit in two years, and rivals such as Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd are seeking food and drinks assets in emerging markets.

The biggest hurdle to any deal may be the Ng family, which has rebuffed bids for its majority stake, said people familiar with the approaches. Even after stock-price gains since the financial crisis,...

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