Long wait, but beer to return

IN 300 days, the world will change for Coca-Cola Amatil and its managing director, Terry Davis. For on December 17, the chains that have kept CCA out of the lucrative brewing industry for two years will be severed and it can return to the sector it has been excluded from since selling its half-share in a beer business to SABMiller.

IN 300 days, the world will change for Coca-Cola Amatil and its managing director, Terry Davis. For on December 17, the chains that have kept CCA out of the lucrative brewing industry for two years will be severed and it can return to the sector it has been excluded from since selling its half-share in a beer business to SABMiller.

The preparations are already in full swing. CCA's announcement on Tuesday of an extension of its Project Zero cost initiative to $90 million in savings over the next three years can be viewed as part of its plan to flex its productivity muscle in the lead up to its brewing reboot.

Although beer volumes in Australia are at their lowest since World War II, the category generates strong returns for brewers selling premium or craft beers. It's these types of beers that CCA and Mr Davis cut their teeth on with SABMiller.

CCA continues to invest in its beer capabilities - mainly the retention of key brewing staff - despite being a year away from re-entering the market, but it will be worth it if Mr Davis can announce on December 17 a slew of licensing and distribution deals with overseas and local beers.

The company is in talks with foreign brewers to line up deals, with unattached American and Belgian labels the most likely partners for CCA's brewing division.

A cider deal might also be a possibility, with CCA recently winning the distribution rights for Swedish cider Rekorderlig, which is Australia's biggest-selling cider.

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