AUS: Wine business sale still an option - Foster's CEO

By | 23 February 2010

Foster's Group may still look to sell its wine business, but the group has received no offers for either that or its more successful beer arm, CEO Ian Johnston has said.

Speaking about the business on ABC network's Inside Business show on Sunday (21 February), Johnston said that Foster's is "retaining all optionality" regarding the future of its troubled wine arm.

Analysts have long speculated that Foster's would like to demerge its wine business from beer and sell it off. Such a move would likely leave the firm's beer arm open to takeover bids.

The group is halfway through a sale of non-core wine assets, as part of a divisional review announced 12 months ago. At the time, Foster's chairman appeared to leave the door open for a sale: "The current difficult conditions in debt and equity markets mean this is not the appropriate time to sell or demerge Foster's wine business," he said.

Johnston told ABC at the weekend that the firm, which owns Rosemount and Wolf Blass wine brands, has received no interest from buyers.

"Has anybody approached us? No, nobody's approached us for either the wine or the beer business to be honest."

He did, however, make reference to the 5% stake in the group that has been acquired by Canada-based brewer Molson Coors. "We can only speculate as to what's behind those motivations," he told interviewer Alan Kohler.

To watch the ABC interview with Johnston, click here.

Sectors: Beer & cider, Wine

Companies: Foster’s, Molson Coors

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