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Foster's Backs $10.1B Bid From SABMiller

Wed, 09/21/2011 - 12:24pm
Manufacturing.net

LONDON (AP) -- SABMiller said Wednesday it has won the support of the board of Foster's Group for its takeover of the Australian brewer after increasing its offer to $10.1 billion.

The deal, subject to approval by shareholders and regulators, would bring Australia's biggest brewer within the portfolio of the world's second largest brewer by volume.

London-based SABMiller said it had unanimous backing from the Foster's board for the offer of 5.10 Australian dollars ($5.23) per share. Foster's said other provisions of the deal raised the total value to 5.5325 Australian dollars per share.

The Australian company had last month rejected an offer that valued it at 4.90 Australian dollars per share.

Foster's chairman David Crawford said the improved offer represents "compelling value for Foster's shareholders."

SABMiller shares were down 0.3 percent at 2,213.5 pence in midday trading on the London Stock Exchange.

SABMiller's brands include Grolsch, Peroni and Miller Lite, and it already has rights to the Foster's brand in India and the U.S.

Foster's, which owns seven of the top 10 beer brands in Australia, last year reported a loss of 89 million Australian dollars as beer sales fell by 6 percent.

Sam Hart, analyst at Charles Stanley, said the deal was a good one for SABMiller.

"The Australian beer market has amongst the highest operating margins in the world, in part reflecting a duopoly structure," in which Foster's has half the market and Lion Nathan has 41 percent, Hart said.

"A significant opportunity exists to improve operational efficiency within the Foster's business and also to better exploit its brands. The Foster's beer business has suffered from years of under-investment," he added.

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