Talks confirmed as SAB closes in on Foster's plant

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 February, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 February, 1999, 12:00am

South African Breweries (SAB), the world's fourth-largest brewer, confirmed yesterday it was in talks with Foster's Brewing Group to buy one of the Australian firm's two mainland plants.

The acquisition, which is likely to take place through a joint venture with China Resources, would be SAB's sixth brewery on the mainland, where it is aiming to build up a strategic position in hinterland provinces.

Foster's is looking to sell its breweries, in Guangdong and Tianjin, and has said that talks are at an advanced stage with potential buyers.

Yesterday, SAB managing director Graham Mackay said his company was interested in one of the breweries but declined to say which.

'We believe the Chinese market will grow and become a profitable and essential place to be,' Mr Mackay said.

SAB, which is listing in London, is planning to raise up to GBP200 million (about HK$2.53 billion) through a share placement. Mr Mackay said some of the new funds would be used to finance existing commitments on the mainland.

The acquisition will boost further SAB's presence on the mainland, where its main operations are in the northeast in Liaoning and Jilin. It has also opened a brewery in Sichuan.