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Beer boss confirms Fosters interest

SAB Miller chief executive Graham Mackay has given the clearest indication yet that the brewer is sizing up a bid for the beer division of Foster’s, admitting that due diligence has already been carried out.

Speaking at the company’s global leadership conference in Chicago, Mackay said that while he remains cautious over major acquisitions, the Foster’s deal was definitely on the company’s radar.

“You would have expected us to have had a look at Foster’s,” he admitted, while analysts are predicting him to pursue at least one major deal before his impending retirement in four years time.

He said the company – the world’s second-largest brewer after Anheuser-Busch InBev – looked at all major acquisition opportunities.

This is not to say a bid is inevitable, however. SAB Miller pulled out of the race to take over Mexican brewer Femsa last year after undertaking a lengthy period of due diligence.

However, SAB Miller already owns the Foster’s brand in India and holds the brewing rights for the beer in the US.

The company was immediately singled-out as the leading candidate to take over the Carlton & United Breweries beer division when Foster’s announced it was to split its beer and wine operations back in May this year.

Other companies believed to be in the running include Molson Coors and Asahi, but there has been no confirmation of interest as yet from either brewer.

Alan Lodge, 22.09.2010

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