BELGIUM/UK: InBev, SAB silent on Foster's talk
Shares in Foster's rose 9% on a report in today's (29 August) Sydney Morning Herald that linked both brewing giants with interest in the company.
"We are not going to comment on these rumours," an InBev spokesperson in Leuven told just-drinks. An SABMiller official simply said "no comment" when asked for a reaction to the report.
However, UK-based investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort played down the speculation arguing that a bid from either brewer was "unlikely".
The bank said that Foster's domestic beer business would be attractive to the world's brewing behemoths, given its sales growth last year of around 6%. However, Foster's wine assets would put off a brewer from bidding for the company, the bank noted.
"We would be surprised to see a bid from either company," Dresdner Kleinwort said. "Fosters has diversified into wine through a series of acquisitions. A 'pure beer' bidder would therefore end up having to break up Foster's and sell the wine on to other companies, which begs the question why would they bid now, rather than having bid for Foster's prior to the wine acquisitions?"
Demand for premium beer is driving the growth in Australia's relatively mature beer market. SABMiller's move into that segment suggests that it would be unlikely to bid for Foster's with its portfolio of mainstream beers, which sell in a relatively stagnant category.
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