As one takeover story trundles on, another one has just moved up a gear. Foster's this morning upped its offer for Australian wine company Southcorp to A$4.26 per share from the previous A$4.14. A majority of Southcorp's board has accepted the offer, while chief executive John Ballard and non-executive director Ern Pope, however, have dismissed the bid as unacceptable.

"I do not believe Foster's offer adequately compensates Southcorp shareholders for either the long term value of the company or the substantial synergies that would be available to Foster's as a result of the transaction," Ballard said today.

The agreement by the majority of the Southcorp board "followed discussions between Foster's and Southcorp and considerable efforts by Southcorp to facilitate a fair outcome for Southcorp shareholders, including providing extensive confidential information to Foster's over the past month," the company said.

Southcorp's chairman Brian Finn said: "It is now time for Southcorp shareholders to accept Foster's cash offer of A$4.26 per share.

"While the board believes that Southcorp would have a viable future as an independent company, the majority of non-executive directors recognise that there has been a period of market uncertainty that is unhelpful to the company and to its Shareholders. Allowed to continue, that uncertainty is likely to reduce the value of the company.

"Given the volatile share market outlook, the majority of non-executive directors recognise that some shareholders may prefer the certainty of an immediate cash offer that recognises a reasonable proportion of the synergies created from the transaction.

"The board will seek an updated report from the Independent Expert on the revised offer, given the change in share market trading conditions recently.

"A majority of the board believe that the revised offer is in the best interests of our shareholders, our customers and our staff," Finn concluded.

Trading in both Southcorp's and Foster's shares was suspended earlier this week, pending an announcement. Opinion was split recently over whether Foster's would raise its offer price, to save face for Southcorp, or would hold firm at A$4.14 in light of tough conditions for the Australian wine industry.