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AUS: Foster's Group shares jump on SABMiller talk

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Foster's Group's share price has spiked following fresh reports that SABMiller is working on a takeover offer for its Australian beer business, Carlton & United Breweries.

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Foster's shares rose by 4% on the Australian stock exchange today (24 January). The rise follows a report in the Sydney Morning Herald that lawyers have cleared a path for the SABMiller to acquire Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), despite the Peroni brewer's existing beer joint venture in Australia with Coca-Cola Amatil, Pacific Beverages.

A spokesperson for SABMiller declined to comment on the report when contacted by just-drinks.

Foster's Group is planning to demerge its beer and wine businesses in the first half of this year. There is speculation that it will announce the move in conjunction with its half-year results on 15 February.

Analysts expect both CUB and the wine arm, Treasury Wine Estates, to attract takeover offers.

SABMiller's CEO, Graham Mackay, has confirmed that the group would be interested in a standalone CUB. "We take a look at everything that's available," he told just-drinks late last year.

CUB is Australia's largest brewer, with 50% market share in volume terms, although it has lost ground to the market number two, Kirin Holdings-owned Lion Nathan, in the last five years. Last week, analyst group Merrill Lynch cut its full-year profits forecast for Foster's by 14%.


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