By Andrew Starke

The Foster’s Group share price has risen sharply this morning (Aug 23) on the back of market speculation linking SABMiller with a $12 billion bid for Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).

The Sunday Times of London reported over the weekend that SABMiller and its advisers are working on a bid which may give the world’s second largest brewer a jump on rivals ahead of next year’s demerger of Foster’s wine and beer assets.

SABMiller already owns the Foster's brand in India and holds the US brewing rights.

While Japanese brewer Asahi and SABMiller are considered the early favourites to acquire Foster’s beer operations, North American brewer Molson Coors, which recently upped its stake in Foster’s, and Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) are also known to be watching developments with interest, although the latter has for the moment ruled out a bid.

Further complicating things is the relationship between some of the major players with SABMiller one of the world’s largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products and in partnership with CCA in Australia through Pacific Beverages, while MillerCoors is a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing Company in the US.

However, according to the Sunday Times, SABMiller might risk making its move before the demerger in order to head off rival bids.

Foster’s Groups shares were trading at $6.16 at midday today, well up on the $5.72 level reached seven days ago.

In other Foster’s news, Christine Nixon has resigned as a director of the company after just five months in the role.

The former Victorian police chief joined the Foster's board of directors as a non-executive director in April.

“Christine Nixon has informed the Board of Foster’s Group Limited (Foster’s) of her intention to resign as a non-executive director with effect from 31 August 2010,” said the company in a short statement.

“Christine joined the Foster’s Board in April this year and the Directors wish to sincerely thank her for her contribution over recent months.”

Foster’s is due to hold its full year results briefing tomorrow (Aug 24).

The Shout Team

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

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