Foster’s rises on the hopes of £7bn bid battle

A BIDDING war could break out for part of the Foster’s Group brewing empire after Asahi, the Japanese lager maker, reportedly hired two investment banks to advise on an approach.

Asahi would be up against London-listed SABMiller in the running for the £7bn beer-brewing arm of the Foster’s business, which produces brands such as Victoria Bitter. Foster’s has effectively put the operation on the block by saying it will de-merge it from its troubled wine unit in the first half of next year.

Shares in the Australian conglomerate leapt 7.6 per cent, or 44 cents, to A$6.26 (£3.60) yesterday – their highest level in two years – as speculation of a takeover battle built.

Both SABMiller and Asahi have underlined their intention to grow by acquisition. But both have refused to comment on the Foster’s business.