Fosters Group needs only two court approvals to push through its demerger

Foster's Group needs only two court approvals to push through its demerger

Foster's Group could officially demerge its beer and wine businesses within the next week after the company's shareholders backed the plan.

Almost 95% of shareholders have voted in favour of Foster's' plan to separate its Australian beer arm, Carlton & United Breweries, from its global wine business, Treasury Wine Estates, the group said at the end of last week.

The move means that Foster's needs only two court approvals to enact its long-awaited demerger. With hearings scheduled over the next six days, the group could have the demerger in place within a week.

Tomorrow (4 May), Foster's will seek approval from the Supreme Court of Victoria. On 9 May, the group plans to ask for backing from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. 

"If this occurs, Treasury Wine Estates Limited is expected to commence trading on the Australian Securities Exchange on Tuesday 10 May 2011 under the ASX code TWE," said Foster's.

Foster's Group chairman, David Crawford, told shareholders last week: "The Foster’s board believes the demerger will maximise aggregate long-term value for Foster’s shareholders as compared to the status quo or a possible sale or an initial public offering of the wine business."

Several analysts expect takeover offers for the separated businesses. In late March, it emerged that Grant Samuel, the independent advisor to Foster's on the demerger plan, believes that the demerger "should increase the likelihood of shareholders receiving a takeover offer for New Foster's and/or Treasury Wine Estates".

SABMiller has been linked with a possible move for Carlton & United Breweries. Last year, meanwhile, Foster's rejected a US$2.5bn bid for Treasury Wine Estates from an unnamed private equity group, thought to have been Cerberus Capital.