Fosters Group edges closer to demerger

Foster's Group edges closer to demerger

Foster's Group has named its global wine arm Treasury Wine Estates, as it prepares to demerge the business from the its beer division.

Treasury Wine Estates will encompass 12,000 hectares of vineyards, 20 wineries and 50 wine brands across Australia, California, France, Italy and New Zealand, Foster's Group said today (21 July).

The move comes as Foster's works to demerge its wine arm from its Australian beer unit, Carlton & United Breweries. Analysts expect takeover bids for the separated beer and wine divisions.

"The announcement today does not pre-empt any outcome for our demerger, nor does it represent fundamental change in our business model," said Ian Johnston, CEO of Foster's, which owns the Beringer, Rosemount and Wolf Blass wine brands.

"The creation of Treasury Wine Estates marks the next natural step in that journey, accelerating a cultural change and business transformation that began with the completion of the Wine Strategic Review in February 2009," said Johnston.

A group spokesperson told just-drinks today that the announcement would have "no impact on the vineyard divestment programme". Foster's has been working to sell off 5,000 hectares of vineyard in order to make its wine arm more profitable.

Analysts have valued the total Foster's wine business at somewhere between AUD1.5bn (US$1.3bn) and AUD4bn.

There has been speculation that China's Bright Food has attempted to persuade Foster's to split up its wine business.

A Foster's spokesperson told just-drinks earlier this month that the firm was keeping all options open. "The board will consider all options to maximise shareholder value," he said.

In June, Foster's said that it would retain three vineyards previously earmarked for sale.

For in-depth coverage of the Foster's demerger, click here.