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Foster's foaming share price.

Shares in Foster's soared yesterday following speculation it was the centre of bid interest from the world's two largest brewers.

InBev and SABMiller were both said to be mulling over an 11 billion Australian dollars (pounds 4.4 billion) approach for Australia's largest wine and beer group. The report sent shares in Foster's up 50 cents - around nine per cent - to 5.95 Australian dollars.

The news came as the firm reported a 27 per cent rise in annual net profits for the year to June 30, to 1.17 billion Australian dollars (pounds 470 million), helped by the acquisition of wine company Southcorp.

The Melbourne-based firm also unveiled the relaunch of its Rosemount wine brand which has suffered from falling sales since being acquired as part of Foster's 3.7 billion Australian dollars (pounds 1.5 billion) takeover of wine company Southcorp last year.

In addition, Foster's announced plans to sell its Wine Clubs and Services businesses and predicted earnings growth to accelerate in 2007. "As a business, we have never been in a better position to grow, with most of the integration activity now behind us, and a strong pipeline of new product initiatives in place to drive revenue growth," chief executive Trevor O'Hoy said.

Revenues for the period rose 23 per cent to 5.12 billion Australian dollars (pounds 2 billion).

Foster's said the UK wine market remained competitive "but strengthened relationships with UK retailers, new product initiatives and increased sales capability are expected to deliver a return to growth".

SABMiller and InBev have been driving the global consolidation of the international beer market.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 30, 2006
Words:267
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