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Foster's names chief; talk of breakup.

Australia's Foster's Brewing Group reported a change of its top management after Peter Bartels, chief executive officer and a director, tendered his resignation. Ted Kunkel, current head of Molson Breweries, was named as Bartels successor, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Director's noted that Kunkel, who has close ties with Foster's, will "provide management continuity,' and that Bartel's resignation will not "alter the company's outlook,its commitment to maximizing value for all shareholders and its strategy" to concentrate mainly on the brewing industry.

With the change, some industry analysts believe Kunkel will come under heavier pressure to look after the interests of larger shareholders, namely Japan's Asahi Breweries Ltd. with 20-percent interest, and International Brewing Holdings, which controls nearly 38 percent of Foster's.

International Brewing, formerly called Harlins Holdings Pty. and held by ex-Foster's chief John Ellito, made a failed Foster's takeover attempt in 1989, and is now aced with $1.5 billion of debt. Currently, International Brewing's only source of income is in the form of dividends from its Foster's shares, though not enough to meet interest payments.

In an effort to make up that shortfall, brewery analysts reported that Elliott has called for a Foster's breakup with a capital return to shareholders. The Britain-based Courage Ltd., at the top of the Foster's assets, could be the first to go, analysts reported. Bartels however, according to an insider report, was opposed to the idea of doling out a greater dividend. This, among other things, caused tensions to escalate between Bartels and Elliott, and between Bartels and Foster's chairman Neil Clark.

Upon assuming his new position, Kunkel will be succeeded by John Carroll as executive chairman of Molson Breweries. Carroll is currently president and chief executive, Molson Breweries.
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Title Annotation:Fosters Brewing Group's chief executive officer Ted Kunkel
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Mar 23, 1992
Words:288
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