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Foster’s puts back wine review

Wine giant Foster’s has announced its wine review has been deferred by two months to ensure that the company ‘gets it right’.

The review, announced in June following a AUS$739m write-down of the company’s global wine assets, was to have been completed by the end of the year.

According to chairman David Crawford, the review is set to be published in mid-February, coinciding with the release of Foster’s half-yearly results.

Crawford said the postponement was to allow an implementation plan to be developed.

‘[The] board is taking the appropriate time, care and consideration in agreeing the future strategy and structure for our wine assets,’ he told the annual general meeting.

Crawford said that the global financial crisis had not played a major part in the deferral of the review.

‘If we were to wait to return to stability in global financial markets we’d be waiting a year or two before completing the wine review and we will not do that,’ he said.

CEO Ian Johnston, however, said that the economic crisis had affected the company. He blamed a fall in sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa on ‘economic headwinds’.

According to the company, US wine sales are ‘holding up’, although there has been a shift from restaurant and on-premise wine drinking to home consumption.

Crawford said that no approaches had been received for any of the wine assets from Rosemount founder, Bob Oatley. Oatley’s company, Oatley Family Wines, is widely rumoured to be interested in buying back Rosemount.

Written by Chris Snow in Adelaide

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