SABMiller Takeover of Foster’s Would Benefit Both Companies, Moody’s Says

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SABMiller Plc (SAB)’s A$9.5 billion ($9.9 billion) takeover offer of Foster’s Group Ltd. (FGL) would benefit both companies’ earnings and help them cut costs if a deal is completed, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

SABMiller, the world’s second-largest brewer by volume, would get access to a profitable cash-generating business and reduce its reliance on developing markets, Moody’s said in an e-mailed report today. Melbourne-based Foster’s would benefit from being part of a materially larger and higher-rated company, Moody’s said.

Foster’s rejected SABMiller’s conditional cash offer last week as too low, in what would be the biggest takeover in the beer industry since 2008. London-based SABMiller said it would pursue Foster’s as it seeks a brewer with about half the Australian market and the top-selling brew in Victoria Bitter.

“SABMiller has historically been an acquisitive company with a good track record at integrating purchased assets,” Yasmina Serghini-Douvin and Maurice O’Connell, Moody’s analysts, wrote in the report. “If the acquisition proceeds, it would be credit positive for both companies with expected benefits in terms of diversification, scale and cost savings.”

Moody’s rates Foster’s Baa2, two levels above junk status. SABMiller is rated one level higher at Baa1.

The offer by SABMiller “significantly undervalues” Foster’s, the Australian brewer said June 21.

An acquisition of Foster’s would be SABMiller’s biggest, giving the maker of Peroni and Grolsch seven of Australia’s top 10 selling beers. It would be the biggest takeover of a beermaker since 2008, when InBev NV acquired St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Cos. for $52 billion to form Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, the world’s largest brewer by volume.