Australia approves $11 billion Foster's sale to SABMiller

Thu Nov 24, 2011 6:23pm EST
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CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia's government approved on Friday SABMiller's A$11.5 billion ($11.2 billion) deal to acquire Foster's Group Ltd under foreign acquisitions laws, but imposed conditions requiring the company to keep brewing operations in Australia.

The government approval is the final regulatory condition to be cleared ahead of the Foster's shareholders vote set for December 1, which is expected to pass the deal.

Treasurer Wayne Swan, who also approved acquisition of the remaining 50 percent of Pacific Beverages now owned by Coca-Cola Amatil, said SABMiller must keep management of the iconic Australian beer brand in Australia.

SABMiller must also continue to invest in Foster's, the maker of Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde, and not shift any of Foster's existing brewing facilities offshore to produce beer for the Australian domestic market, he said.

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

SABMiller last week raised its cash takeover offer for Foster's to A$5.40 a share to make up for the loss of a 30 cents capital return after a tax ruling from Australian authorities.

The move made no difference to the total enterprise value of the deal, including debt.

The takeover requires approval of 75 percent of votes the December 1 meeting and has wide support from institutional investors.

SABMiller said the undertakings it had agreed with the Australian government on the takeover of Foster's were consistent with its plans for the business.   Continued...