Southcorp to be folded into Foster's
13 Jan 2005 by JR

As I write, shares in both Fosters and Southcorp are suspended, presumably preparatory to the Australian brewer's swallowing of the troubled Southcorp group, once Australia's leading wine producer.

The Oatley family who founded Rosemount and then clung to a significant slice of the action when it was merged with Southcorp has, to the fury of old Southcorp hands, just sold its stake to Fosters. It is surely only a matter of (not very much) time before Fosters can add names such as Penfolds, Lindemans and Wynns to their Beringer Blass stable of brands in both California and Australia. This presumably gives them a bit more critical mass with which to fight off takeover bids from the likes of Allied Domecq, and will help them compete against the mighty Constellation - though they need some very firm turnaround management policies.

Who would have thought that Penfolds Grange, the flagship of the Australian wine armada, would ever be owned by a brewer? Well, only those who didn't realise that it was until recently owned by a water heater company.