LONDON Dec 1 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)