SABMiller has secured a US$12.5bn syndicated loan to fund its tilt at Foster's Group, according to reports.

SABMiller has gained access to the finance via agreements with key banks, Reuters reported yesterday (18 August), citing unnamed banking sources. It said that the loan includes an 18-month bridge loan of around $8.5bn.

News of the loan comes as SABMiller ratchets up the pressure in its pursuit of Foster's. Earlier this week, the Peroni brewer announced that it would take its AUD4.9 per share cash offer direct to Foster's shareholders, circumventing the Australian brewer's board.

In its announcement, SABMiller said that it plans to fund a takeover "through a combination of existing resources and new debt committed by a number of financial institutions". At AUD4.9 (US$5.1) per share, it will cost SABMiller AUD9.5bn to buy Foster's. The Australian group is also carrying around AUD1.7bn in debt, which would make the deal worth AUD11.2bn in total.

If the reports of SABMiller's $12.5bn loan funding are correct, it may indicate that the brewer is leaving room to raise its bid, if necessary. Foster's management has told all group shareholders not to communicate with SABMiller. Yesterday, the Foster's board again rebuffed SABMiller's advances.

However, there are reports of restlessness among Foster's investors. Analyst group Macquarie yesterday recommended Foster's shareholders accept SABMiller's current offer, saying it does not believe that the firm is worth even AUD4.9 per share.

SABMiller's decision to go hostile in its pursuit of Foster's is likely motivated by several factors, including the intransigence of Foster's' board over the past two months and fresh fragility in Foster's' share price. The timing of SABMiller's announcement, meanwhile, looks designed to probe for cracks between Foster's shareholders and management ahead of the Australian brewer's full-year results, which are due out on 23 August.