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) -- Consolidation may be brewing in the international beer market as U.K.-based


(SBMRY.PK) and Japan's

Asahi Breweries

(ASBRY.PK) are both reportedly considering a takeover of the beer operations of Australia's



The beer operations of Australia's Foster's, known as Carlton & United Breweries, are valued at more than $10 billion. Neither SABMiller nor Asahi has made a formal offer.

Foster's, the biggest brewer in Australia, said this spring it was looking to separate its beer arm from its wine business. Analysts don't expect any bids will be placed on the table until the division is complete in early 2011.

"We remain skeptical that any bid will come here before the planned demerger of the beer division in early 2011," Nomura analyst Ian Shackleton told




Sunday Times of London

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said SABMiller could spend up to $10.9 billion to acquire Carlton & United Breweries.

Asahi could make a play but its bidding price may not be as high. The Japanese beer maker's president said earlier this month he expects to be able to spend $9.2 billion on acquisition-based growth in the next five years.

Analysts also say Foster's beer business is an attractive target for drinks firms such as

Molson Coors

(TAP) - Get Molson Coors Beverage Company Class B Report

, which owns a 5% stake in Foster's, and

Coca-Cola Amatil


, Reuters reported.

The largest brewers like

Anheuer-Busch Inbev

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may not be able to join the potential bidding war for Foster's because of debt from previous acquisitions.

Foster's roster of beers, including Foster's Lager, Victoria Bitter and Pure Blonde, garner about half of the Australian beer market, according to Reuters.



-owned Lion Nathan holds much of the rest.

>>Anheuser-Busch Takeover Target: Craft Brewers Alliance?

The beer industry is no stranger to merger and acquisition action. Speculation has ramped up in recent weeks that Anheuer-Busch Inbev, itself a merged entity of U.S.-based Anheuser-Busch and Belgian brewer InBev,

could be angling to acquire

Craft Brewers Alliance

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-- Reported by Miriam Marcus Reimer from New York.


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