The Australian takeover watchdog today rejected global brewing and bottling giant ABMiller's plea for a review of the financial statements of its takeover target Foster's Group.
London-based SABMiller had in June made an unsolicited $10 billion (A$9.5 billion) takeover bid for Australia's largest brewer Foster's, and in mid-August, took its proposal directly to the shareholders after Foster's board rejected its bid as too low. (See: SABMiller takes its $10-bn bid to Foster's shareholders)
Last week, SABMiller, the world's second-biggest brewer by volume after Belgium's Busch InBev NV asked the Australian government's Takeovers Panel, which arbitrates on acquisition disputes, to order Foster's to retract statements regarding its earnings outlook in its annual results presentation, saying they were misleading and unsupported by evidence.
SABMiller claimed the outlook statements were misleading and deceptive and that Foster's net debt figure of A$887 million was inconsistent with Australian accounting standards.
The Panel rejected SABMiller's plea of launching an investigation and said that it had ''concluded there was no reasonable prospect that it would make a declaration of unacceptable circumstances in relation to the Financial Objectives Statements.''
It did however say that it did have some concerns with the net debt statement; but these concerns were allayed by Foster's volunteering to make an announcement clarifying the basis for reaching a pro forma net debt figure.