UPDATE 1-Australia’s Foster’s says beer, wine split on track

* Work on separating beer and wine progressing well

* Confirms heads of separate units

(adds details, quotes)

MELBOURNE, Dec 22 (BestGrowthStock) – Foster’s Group ,
Australia’s largest brewer, said its plans to split its beer
and wine operations were on track, and its group chief
executive would leave after the demerger.

Foster’s, which rejected a $2.5 billion private equity bid
for its wine business in September, is looking to list the
wine group separately on the Australian Stock Exchange in the
first half of 2011.

A split could elicit more takeover offers for either wine,
the world’s second largest wine operation, or the lucrative
$10 billion brewery operations.

Foster’s has said it plans to make a final decision by
April on whether to split the group. A proposal would need to
go to shareholders for approval.

In a statement, the brewer said Chief Executive Ian
Johnston will leave if the split goes ahead. Johnston came out
of semi-retirement two years ago to take over the job after
the previous CEO quit after a massive writedown on the wine

The separate groups would be headed by current beer chief
John Pollaers, a former navy officer and executive at Diageo
; and current wine chief David Dearie, a former
executive at wine group Brown-Forman (BFb.N: ) and Inchcape

“With beer back proudly at the heart of our businesses,
we’ve made great recent progress at Carlton & United
Breweries,” Pollaers said.

After the private equity approach for the wine business,
made by Cerberus, the interest of other buyers was said to be
waning as any potential bidders wait for a demerger to proceed
before approaching the company.

Molson Coors Brewing Co has said it will unwind
its derivative position in Foster’s this month, dampening
speculation the beer group was interested in bidding for
Foster’s beer assets. [ID:nLDE6B0230]

Constellation Brands Inc , the world’s largest wine
company, is close to selling most of its non-U.S. wine
portfolio, including assets in Australia and Britain,
according to reports this week. For details, see [ID:nN20211806]

(Reporting by Victoria Thieberger; editing by Narayanan

UPDATE 1-Australia’s Foster’s says beer, wine split on track