Foster's suffers bout of brewer's droop

Foster's Group chief executive John Pollaers and his senior management team might need to dust off their CVs, going by the less than encouraging comments made by SABMiller boss Graham Mackay.

Foster's Group chief executive John Pollaers and his senior management team might need to dust off their CVs, going by the less than encouraging comments made by SABMiller boss Graham Mackay.

During an analyst call in which SABMiller discussed its $12.3 billion takeover of the Australian beer-maker on Wednesday night, Mackay said: "We believe Foster's has been underperforming for a number of years, with suboptimal brand support and inferior category management."

He noted how some of Foster's key brands had been "unloved". Mackay also managed to denigrate the past and current management of Foster's without intending to do so.

"I wouldn't want to and I don't denigrate at all the current management team - but of course they haven't been in there very long and there's been considerable churn in the management and with it lack of focus on the brands, the portfolio and, in fact, the whole business by the generations of management which preceded the current one," he said.

Mackay also noted how the Foster's beer portfolio had been "very heavily" extended in recent years and how it had not been "particularly well thought through".

Mackay at least seems happy about Foster's range of beers.

"VB is a truly iconic brand, occupying a world-recognised position in beer," he said.


The Foster's chief executive of the past four months can still gain comfort from knowing he has something to fall back on, just in case he becomes "unloved" by his new masters at SABMiller.

Pollaers will be entitled to 12 months' fixed pay - $1.6 million - if he is let go after the deal goes through. He has 116,600 performance rights - due to be tested in late 2013 - that are worth $594,660 based on the $5.10 a share takeover price.

Foster's paid its former chief executive Ian Johnston a $1.6 million severance package after he stepped down in May.


The grandfather of Australian business surveys has marked its 50th anniversary on a conveniently sombre note to help Westpac chief economist Bill Evans push his argument (and prediction) for a interest rate cut in December.

Evans, who copped some heat in July (and now praise) for being the first leading economist to tip an interest rate cut this year, provided gloomy quotes to help the ACCI-Westpac Quarterly Survey of Industrial Trends mark its 200th edition. Some of his blurbs included: "Business confidence has plummeted", "The labour market is softening" and "The case for lower rates has already been made".

Meanwhile, the consulting economist who helped compile the survey since June 1973, Eugene Bajkowski, recalled the more romantic era of the survey.

"First it was all typed out on a typewriter," Bajkowski, who also celebrated his 80th birthday this year, said. "It was a gentleman's occupation. I went up for three days from Canberra to Sydney where it was typed and retyped.

"Then it was duplicated. And in the meantime we went to [the] cricket ground to look at the cricket and go for lunches and so on."

Bajkowski said the survey at one stage in the era before word processors had 15 people working on it. "It had to be proofread many times and then, of course, it took time for us to eat lunch."


The market did not appear entirely convinced by the comments provided by Michael Fowler, the chairman of the oil and gas explorer Nexus Energy, following yesterday's sudden resignation of the group's managing director Richard Cottee.

"Nexus is in a strong financial position and is on track to achieving our targets," Fowler said in a statement to the market as Nexus shares crashed 52 per cent to 12?. Seems Cottee does not see much chance of Nexus ever becoming a Queensland Gas.

Cottee, who made about $30 million selling his Queensland Gas stake into the $5.6 billion takeover by BG Group in 2008, appeared a lot more upbeat when he joined Nexus as chief executive office in May last year. When appointed, Cottee said: "I firmly believe the company's share price has substantial upside in the short to medium-term." That was when Nexus shares were trading above 20?.

Got a tip? Use our online tips box or email Twitter: @srochfort

Join the Conversation...

There are comments posted so far.

If you'd like to join this conversation, please login or sign up here

Related Articles