Australia approves Foster's sale to SABMiller

25th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Australia's government on Friday approved brewer SABMiller's Aus$9.9 billion (US$9.62 billion) takeover of Foster's, on condition that management operations remain in the country.

"The government welcomes foreign investment in Australia and continues to ensure that investments are consistent with Australia's national interest," said Treasurer Wayne Swan as he announced the approval.

Given Foster's iconic status in Australia, he set certain conditions on the sale which would put the brand in foreign hands for the first time in its 150-year history.

These include that management of operations remain in Australia.

British-based SABMiller has also undertaken not to relocate any of Foster's existing brewing facilities offshore to produce beer for Australian domestic consumption and to continue to invest in its Australian brand portfolio.

"SABMiller has agreed to a number of undertakings which recognise the significance of Foster's to our economy and to our community, and support Australian jobs," said Swan.

"In addition to Foster's undertakings, I have taken into account SABMiller's plans to strengthen Foster's brand portfolio and work with its local employees to bring its global scale and expertise to the business.

"I also note SABMiller's current intention that Foster's operational employees will remain in their existing roles on the same or substantially similar conditions to those which they currently enjoy," he added.

The Foster's board agreed in September to an improved offer worth Aus$9.9 billion, or Aus$5.10 per share, and the deal was also given the green light by the competition watchdog.

A takeover had been expected since the group's recent demerger of its wine and beer operations and amid consolidation within the Australian beverage industry.

With Lion Nathan already in the hands of Japanese brewer Kirin, the Foster's takeover will leave Coopers as the biggest Australian-owned beer company, with around four percent of the market.

© 2011 AFP

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