Foster's shareholders set to give SABMiller bud the go-ahead

City A.M. Reporter
SABMiller's £6bn bid for Australian brewer Foster's Group looks set for success as key shareholders backed the sweetened deal on Thursday with only an outside chance of a rival offer now posing a threat.

Foster's agreed to accept SABMiller's A$5.10 a share offer, a 20 cent-a-share increase on a previous offer, after a three-month battle by SABMiller to win over management at the Australian brewer.

Foster's, maker of Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde, will also undertake a 30 cents-a-share capital return and pay a final dividend of 13.25 cents under the deal.

"It's a good result," Matt Williams, Australian Equities Manager at fund manager Perpetual, told Reuters. Perpetual holds around three percent of Foster's.

"In the absence of a higher bidder, it will certainly win out," he said.

Foster's shares jumped eight per cent to A$5.28 on the deal, the highest level in almost four years.

SABMiller's chief executive, Graham Mackay, expects the London-listed firm's biggest ever takeover deal to close by the end of the year and put it at the head of the Australian beer market with a near 50 per cent share. SABMiller brews Peroni, Miller Lite and Grolsch.

Foster's is seen as attractive with its high profit margins, due to its virtually duopoly with Kirin-owned Lion Nathan.

Jason Beddow, chief executive at Foster's shareholder ARGO Investments, said SABMiller "played it reasonably smart" and it was "increasingly unlikely" a competitor would enter the fray.