By Andrew Starke

SABMiller has given the clearest indication of its interest in the Foster’s Group so far with CEO Graham Mackay admitting the local beer giant was a potential acquisition target.

While Mackay declined to specifically discuss a bid for Foster’s beer division, he told The Wall Street Journal that SABMiller reviewed all big deals that come up.

“You would have expected us to have had a look at Foster's,” Mackay said, before implying that a due diligence of the business has already been completed.

SABMiller is presently revamping its business model with senior management in the 75 countries it operates in being asked to focus more on sales and marketing and far less on non-core tasks such as finance, procurement and human resources.

While SABMiller was considered a favourite by analysts to acquire Foster’s beer division, Mackay said the world’s second largest beer company was ‘cautious’ about further acquisitions.

This more conservative strategy was on show late last year when SABMiller lost out to Heineken in the race to acquire South American brewer, Femsa.

Both major players were interested in Femsa’s Mexican operations but SABMiller was not interested in buying Femsa's Brazilian brewing operation as part of the same deal due to concerns about beer distribution operations in that country.

Changes to its business model also indicate that the brewing giant may be preparing to focus more on its existing operations than the growth through acquisition policy that has served it so well over the past decade.

“There's more and more of an imperative for organic growth in the aftermath of the major M&A (in the industry),” Mackay told the The Wall Street Journal.

In other Foster’s news, the brewer has announced that its AGM for shareholders will be held at the Palladium at Crown, Level 1, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank, Victoria, on Tuesday October 26, 2010, at 10.30am.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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