Molson Coors to unwind Foster's position by January
LONDON Dec 1 (Reuters) - Molson Coors Brewing Co's (TAP.N) Chief Executive Peter Swinburn said on Wednesday that his beer group will unwind its derivative position in Australia's Foster's Group FGL.AX by January, at a profit.
Molson's interest in Foster's had sparked some speculation that the North American brewer might be one of those interested in bidding for Foster's beer assets when the Australian group splits its beer and wine divisions early next year.
Swinburn said half of its 5 percent interest or "exposure to an economic swap" had been unwound during September and October, and the remainder will be unwound by January.
"This was always a flexible vehicle and we decided it was a good time to unwind it at a profit," Swinburn told Reuters at the end of an analyst and investor day in London.
Foster's demerger plan announced in May sparked talk its beer operation might be snapped up post-demerger for a price of over $10 billion with SABMiller (SAB.L), Japan's Asahi Breweries (2502.T), Coco-Cola Amatil (CCL.AX) as well as Molson Coors seen as showing an interest, according to analysts. [ID:nLDE67M14A]
Swinburn added that his group which brews Coors Light and Molson Canadian beers did not anticipate any improvement in its three main beer markets of the United States, Canada and Britain in the next 12 months.
"There may be some slow improvement but it will be very slow," Swinburn said.
He added the key issue was unemployment in the U.S. and Canada where the group makes nearly 90 percent of its profits. There, its key drinkers who range from the legal drinking age to 31/32 are suffering from an unemployment rate which is twice the national average in the two countries. (Reporting by David Jones; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)