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4-2017

Global hop market

A local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms. 

Hop Market in Russia

Germany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.

SABMiller to launch Foster’s bid after skirmish

* SABMiller prepares to publish formal bid
* Foster's shares below SABMiller bid price
* Foster's says SABMiller claim "frivolous and petty"
* SABMiller says pleased has clarity on Foster's debt
* Foster's books deferred tax asset of A$447.5 mln

By Michael Smith and David Jones

SYDNEY/LONDON, Sep 8 (Reuters) - Brewer SABMiller is set to launch its formal takeover for Foster's Group within days after an Australian regulator rejected its claim that Foster's had made misleading statements as part of a hostile A$9.5 billion ($10.1 billion) bid battle.

SABMiller had hoped to rattle Foster's takeover defence by casting doubt on information given at its annual results. The ruling allowed both sides to claim victory as it dismissed doubts over Foster's financial forecasts but did force Foster's to clarify its net debt position.

The Australian Takeovers Panel dismissed SABMiller's claims on Thursday that Foster's had made "misleading and deceptive" forward-looking statements over future sales and earnings growth, but had some concerns over its net debt figure which were allayed by a Foster's clarification.

Both parties accepted the panel's decision and SABMiller is now likely to launch its bid document, which could come as early as next week, at the same cash price of A$4.90 a Foster's share as originally proposed, sources close to the situation said.

"SABMiller is ready to go, so this ruling gives it the green light to formalise its bid as soon as possible at the same price," said one source with knowledge of the situation.

The publication of its bid document will trigger a takeover process which under Australian rules could take as little as seven weeks.

The London-based brewer has been turning more aggressive in its determination not to overpay, while Foster's has rejected SABMiller's approach on the grounds that it undervalues the company. That position was undermined by Foster's shares closing at A$4.85 on Thursday, below SABMiller's cash bid of A$4.90.

Foster's had dismissed the claims by its suitor, which related to statements Foster's had made in its annual results late last month. "It was pretty clearly frivolous and petty," a Foster's spokesman said of the application to the panel.

SABMiller welcomed the clarification: "SABMiller accepts the panel's determination and is pleased that Foster's has now clarified its debt position," the group said. Its shares were off 0.1 percent at 22.24 pounds by 1210 GMT.

Foster's released details of its submission to the panel, saying it had booked a deferred tax asset of A$447.5 million ($474 million) which reflected its success in a tax case, which helped clarify its debt figure.

"The panel concluded there was no reasonable prospect that it would make a declaration of unacceptable circumstances in relation to the financial objectives statements," the panel said in a statement released to the Australian Securities Exchange.

SABMiller, the world's second-largest brewer and home to Grolsch, Miller Lite and Peroni, first approached Australia's largest brewer in June and turned hostile on Aug 17, taking its offer directly to Foster's shareholders, and now has two calendar months from that date to submit a formal offer document.

Foster's, the maker of Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde, reported a 9 percent slide in second-half profit on Aug 23, in a rare decline that showed beer margins falling for the first time in a decade and lower volumes.

Foster's has sold off virtually all its overseas operations to be largely an Australian brewer with a 50 percent share of its domestic market, where it earns some of the best margins in the developed world in a near duopoly with Kirin-owned Lion Nathan.

Once SABMiller launches its official bid it must lodge its offer document with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), which can take a maximum of 15 days to approve the bid, and then allow SABMiller to post it to Foster's shareholders.

The bidder is allowed three to four days to post the document and once the postage is completed, the minimum period the offer has to stay open is for one calendar month after the final posting date, although this can be extended. ($1 = 0.944 Australian Dollars)

9 Sep. 2011

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