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Foster’s healthy but not interested in Southcorp

Foster's chief Ted Kunkel has played down any suggestion that the giant conglomerate might buy ailing rival Southcorp.

Unveiling a 4.1% rise in profits for the six months to the end of 2002, Kunkel said he was pleased with the beer and wine business.

But he warned the US wine business was facing a downturn that could last for the next 18 months or more.

Kunkel said he did not feel Foster’s had any need to make any acquisitions, and knocked back speculation of a AUS$3.5bn (€1.92bn) bid for Southcorp, which recently downgraded profit forecasts and suspended trading in shares, and saw the forced resignation of chief executive Keith Lambert.

‘I can tell you that no conversation has taken place that would remotely require the company to make an announcement,’ he told reporters. It is understood the company prefers to set its sights on acquisitions of AUS$100m(€54.8m) or less.

Written by Adam Lechmere, and agencies11 February 2002

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