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Foster’s to buy back part of Asahi shares

June 5, 1997

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ Foster’s Brewing Group Ltd. said Thursday it will pay $468 million to buy back 13 percent of its shares held by Asahi Breweries Ltd. of Japan.

At the same time, Foster’s major shareholder, Broken Hill Proprietary Co. of Australia, said it is selling its 36.5 percent stake in the Australian brewer.

Foster’s has operations in Australia and China and sales worldwide. It holds a 40 percent stake in Molson Breweries of Canada.

Foster’s president and chief executive, Ted Kunkel, said in a statement the buyback of Asahi’s shares will establish a more appropriate capital structure for Foster’s and give it a ``more diverse shareholder base.″

Foster’s said the buyback of Asahi’s stake is taking place at a favorable price for Foster’s shareholders, representing a 5 percent discount to the average price at which Foster’s shares have traded over the past year.

The Australian brewer will pay 2.49 Australian dollars, or $1.87, per share for Asahi’s stake.

A meeting of Foster’s shareholders will be held on July 24 to vote on the buyback.

Five directors of the Foster’s board associated with Asahi and BHP will resign as a result of the deals.

Broken Hill Proprietary said it is selling 616 million Foster’s shares _ 86 percent of its total stake in the brewer _ for 2.49 Australian dollars per share to an unnamed major investment bank and an Australian stockbroker.

That sale will generate about $1.15 billion.

Broken Hill Proprietary said it plans to make its remaining shares in Foster’s available to BHP shareholders sometime after Oct. 5 at undisclosed terms.

``The distribution will allow BHP shareholders to purchase Foster’s should they wish to continue to hold an interest in Foster’s,″ BHP said in a statement.

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