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DEALTALK-Less fizz in talk of Foster's wine split
http://finance.QQ.com  2008年12月18日15:30   腾讯财经   我要评论(0)

    据外电综合报道:

     (For more Reuters DEALTALKs, click [DEALTALK/)]

    By Simone Giuliani

    MELBOURNE, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Australia's biggest brewer,

    Foster's Group Ltd <FGL.AX>, is less likely to hive off its $3.5

    billion wine business, the world's second largest, early next

    year as there are few obvious buyers and funding is hard to find.

    Speculation has been rife that international brewers are

    circling Foster's beer business if it unhitches the struggling

    wine unit from a reliable earnings stream generated by an

    Australian beer market share of more than 50 percent.

    However, the chances of the maker of Crown Lager and Victoria

    Bitter being swept up in a global brewing industry consolidation

    are decreasing as expectations grow that the wine unit will stay.

    Analysts say the A$5 billion wine operation, which ranks

    behind only Constellation <STZ.N>, will be tough to sell as

    potential buyers are few and harsh debt markets make funding a

    deal difficult. Returns from selling wine are also under pressure

    as supplies are plentiful but consumer demand is slowing.

    "In this type of market it's going to be very difficult to do

    anything. My guess is we'll get an internal restructure story,"

    said Theo Maas, investment analyst at Fortis Investment Partners.

    The lure of Foster's beer operations, worth A$10-A$11

    billion, may not be enough to convince an international brewer to

    also take on the wine business, which accounts for around 30

    percent of Foster's group earnings.

    Buying the whole group would be a hefty bite.

    One potential buyer is North America's Molson Coors Brewing

    Co <TAP.N><TAP.TO>, which last month emerged as holding a 5

    percent interest in Foster's.

    The global drinks industry has seen plenty of merger and

    acquisition activity this year, with Belgium-based InBev

    <INTB.BR> buying Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch for $52 billion

    and Coca-Cola <KO.N> bidding $2.5 billion for China Huiyuan Juice

    Group Ltd <1886.HK>

    COSTS HIGH

    For Foster's, analysts say a wine demerger would likely add

    to costs as debt would need to be restructured -- another reason

    why this is unlikely to happen soon. Foster's had net debt of

    A$2.4 billion at end-June, with around 80 percent of that

    denominated in U.S. dollars.

    Morgan Stanley analyst Martin Yule said in a report last week

    the cost of reorganising group debt structures was a significant

    demerger impediment and would not be cheap.

    "The wine business cannot service a large debt burden. It

    would also be untenable to have an Australian beer asset with

    considerable exposure to U.S. dollar debt," Yule wrote.

    Morgan Stanley has an overweight rating on Foster's.

    Foster's announced the review of its wine unit in June when

    it said it had paid too much for wine assets and returns had

    continued to disappoint. Earnings were being hit by tough trading

    conditions and a strong Australian dollar, which was hitting its

    wine sales in export markets.

    "The wine review continues and will be completed no later

    than our half-year results," said a Foster's spokesman, declining

    to give further detail. Foster's July-December results are due on

    Feb. 17.

    Shares in the maker of Beringer and Lindemans wines have

    gained about 24 percent since touching a near-4-1/2-year low in

    mid-July, while the broader Australian share market <.AXJO> has

    dropped by about a quarter.

    Foster's shares are expected to remain solid even if there is

    no big restructure announcement.

     "I think there will be a little bit of disappointment, but

    the fact that it's still a low risk play with a very good balance

    sheet and a very solid business will hold it in good stead," said

    Craig Young, investment research analyst at Tyndall Investment

    Management.

    Helping Foster's case is a decline in the Aussie dollar,

    which has fallen almost 30 percent to around $0.70 <AUD=> from a

    July peak when it crept close to $1. In the 2007/08 business

    year, a strong local currency had sliced A$70 million from

    Foster's wine earnings.

     ($1=A$1.52)

     (Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

     ((melbourne.newsroom@reuters.com; 613-9286-1421))

    Keywords: DEALTALK/FOSTERS

    .

    Keywords: DEALTALK/FOSTERS =2

腾讯声明:频道所载文章、数据等内容纯属作者个人观点,仅供投资者参考,并不构成投资建议。
投资者据此操作,风险自担。
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