BHP bids for Elliott's former stake in Foster's

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The Independent Online
THE long-running saga over the future of Foster's Brewing Group, the world's fourth-largest brewer and owner of Courage in the UK, has taken a fresh twist.

Broken Hill Proprietary, Australia's largest company, has bid Adollars 1.5bn ( pounds 560m) cash for a 32 per cent stake in the international drinks empire, once ruled over by John Elliott.

Earlier this year, BHP effectively ended Mr Elliott's influence at Foster's and brought about the downfall of one of Australia's best-known entrepreneurs. It appointed receivers to International Brewing Investments, owned by his International Brewing Holdings concern, which in turn owns the 32 per cent stake.

The initial relationship between Mr Elliott and BHP was forged in 1988, when the two struck a cross-shareholding deal.

Analysts said BHP's latest move, designed to limit losses on its investment in IBI, would lead to it becoming an active partner at Foster's through board representation.

BHP, which wrote off Adollars 312m on its investment in IBI in the year to May, confirmed its interest in directorships, but ruled out speculation that it would soon make a full takeover bid.

The bid for the 32 per cent stake, currently in the hands of the joint receivers of IBH, is pitched at Adollars 2.39 a share, against a stock market price of dollars 1.85.

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