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Harpers' leader: Foster's - never rains but pours

Published:  18 January, 2007

At the time of going to press (Wednesday, 30 August due to bank holiday) - I hate using that expression because it means the story may well be out of date by the time you read this, thus instead of appearing knowledgeable and ahead of the game, I look stupid (only slightly, I hope) and out of date.

Anway, at the, rumours abound that Foster's, owners of Wolf Blass, Penfolds, Rosemount, Lindemans and Beringer, is about to attract a bid from either Inbev or SAB Miller, two of the world's largest brewers. If that is the case, we can safely assume that they are after the Foster's portfolio of beer brands (which doesn't include Foster's in this country - that is owned by Scottish & Newcastle) and the wine division may well be sold off.

It is only a year ago that Foster's completed the acquisition of Southcorp, and this rumour coincides with its ambitious plans to revitalise the ailing Rosemount brand and take Lindemans off into distant parts - South Africa and Chile to be precise. There have been rumours that Lindemans' money-spinning Bin 65 Chardonnay brand will one day

be sourced from juice from wherever the price is right and the quality meets specification. This could well be the start of that process. The rehabilitation of Rosemount is long overdue. It has been slaughtered by the aggressive pricing policy that brought Southcorp to its knees. Well, if the rumour is correct, it's all change again, and another period of consolidation and rationalisation.

Christian Davis