Foster’s boss says takeover could expand market

SYDNEY (AP) — London-based SABMiller’s $10.1 billion takeover of brewer Foster’s Group creates an opportunity for Australian beers to gain greater global acceptance, Foster’s chief executive John Pollaers said Thursday.

SABMiller said Wednesday that it had won the support of the Foster’s board for the takeover after increasing its offer.

The deal, subject to approval by shareholders and regulators, will make Australia’s biggest brewer part of the world’s second-largest beer maker by volume.

Pollaers said the takeover provides an opportunity to expand the international market for Foster’s beers. Its beers including VB, Cascade, Crown Lager and Carlton Draught are popular in Australia but little know outside the country.

“The opportunity is for those beers to travel the world more effectively now and the opportunity is for our people to have terrific international careers,” Pollaers told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

“We think this is a terrific offer for the company, having had a very close look at it over the last few months, and it compares very favorably to precedent and transactions of this type,” he said.

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, reported a loss of Australian dollars 89 million ($89 million) last year as beer sales fell by 6 percent.

Foster’s said in its annual report Wednesday that the decline in the Australian beer market was easing, and that the market should grow again once the current period of economic uncertainty ends.

Foster’s shares jumped nearly 8 percent to AU$5.27 in early afternoon trading on Thursday.

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