Foster's boss not talking with SAB Miller

3rd July 2011, Comments 0 comments

The head of Australian beer giant Foster's on Sunday said he was not talking with SABMiller about their recent takeover bid, insisting his focus was on improving the business.

Foster's last month rejected an unsolicited Aus$9.51 billion ($10 billion) offer from the international brewer, saying it undervalued the company, and chief executive John Pollaers said he was not engaged in further talks.

"Our focus right now is just, fundamentally, turning this business around and making sure we realise the full potential of it," he told ABC television's "Inside Business" show.

"From our perspective, there's always been noise around this company. And why wouldn't there be?

"It's a very strong company, a very strong market position, with a very strong international reputation.

"But as I said, our focus is to let SABMiller do what they need to do, our focus is on this business."

Pollaers rejected the notion that the shareholders of Foster's, one of Australia's best known brands, would welcome another takeover bid and an effective auction for the company.

"I'm not sure that's true," he said.

"I think at the end of the day they recognise that our job is to maximise value for them.

"The best way to maximise value is to have a well-run company that is unlocking the growth potential and that is relevant to consumers.

"That's where I think their vote will be."

At the time of the offer, SABMiller said the proposal to buy Foster's was in line with its strategy to create a global spread of businesses and it would continue to pursue discussions.

Foster's, which recently split its beer division from its underperforming wine assets, has been battling intense competition, affecting its flagship brands VB, Crown and Carlton Draught.

But Pollaers said the market had been improving of late.

"We've had a very tough year this year, and I think most Australians are feeling it tough, and most beer consumers are feeling it tough," he said.

"But fundamentally, we see the beer categories as continuing to grow."

© 2011 AFP

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