3 Deals to Watch: Australian Beer, Russian Oligarchs & Irish Banks

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The Australian government gave SABMiller a late Thanksgiving gift Friday when it approved the beer giant's purchase of Australia's flagship brewer Fosters's Group for $11.2 billion.

After SABMiller increased its offer for Foster's Group in October to get the company to agree on a merger, in mid-November it cancelled an AUD30 cent merger dividend to shareholders and, instead, added the dividend to the takeover price, pushing the purchase price above $11 billion. SABMiller's second concession boosted its chances of approval by Australian regulators, leading regulatory cheers on Friday heard from Sydney to Milwaukee.

SABMiller -- the international beer conglomerate that owns U.S. beer favorite Miller Lite and European classics Grolsch and Peroni -- will pay A$5.40 a share in cash to buy Australia's Fosters. According to the company's website, the addition of Fosters will provide its first entry into Australia, the only continent where it doesn't have existing brands. With Fosters, SABMiller will command a near-50% beer market share down under according to Reuters calculations.

"SABMiller has agreed to a number of undertakings which recognize the significance of Foster's to our economy and to our community, and support Australian jobs," said Australia's Treasurer Wayne Swan in a statement approving the merger.

Previous to board and regulatory approval of the deal, Fosters management rejected SABMiller's first A$4.90 a share takeover attempt in June, saying, "The value (of the bid) was so far from reality, it wasn't worth engaging." SABMiller then took their offer to buy the company directly to shareholders in a hostile takeover attempt this summer. The twice increased purchase price now stands at A$5.40.

SABMiller shareholders will vote on the merger on Dec. 1. For the largest beer deal of the year to be complete, 75% of shareholders will have to approve the merger.

In a November statement, SABMiller said, "If approved by shareholders at the relevant scheme meetings later this year, SAB Miller continues to expect the acquisition to be completed before the end of 2011."

In October, the Brazilian news agency IG reported that Anheuser-Busch InBev ( BUD) is interested in buying SABMiller for as much as $80 billion according to anonymous sources. That merger would put InBev, the world's largest beer maker, together with SABMiller, the second largest.

Disney ( DIS) has bought a stake in Russian broadcaster Usmanov for $300 according to a regulatory filing released in November.

For Disney, it's a push to diversify sales internationally and bolster its Media Networks division, which accounts for nearly half of the company's overall $40.9 billion in sales, and over 70% of its $8.9 billion in operating income.

Usmanov, named after its owner Uzbek-born Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov, operates media companies 7TV and a consortium of regional broadcast networks. Usmanov , an industrial, finance and media magnate, is the world's 35th richest person, holding a fortune of $17.7 billion according to November calculations by Forbes Magazine.

The Billionaire co-owns media assets being partially sold to Disney, along with more valuable stakes in Metalloinvest, the industrial mining arm of state-owned gas giant Gazprom. Usmanov also is a co-owner of MegaFon, Russia's second largest mobile phone operator. Not to be excluded from the pitch when compared with billionaire Russian peers Roman Abramovich and Alexandre Gaydamak, Usmanov is a majority shareholder in Arsenal Football Club, which rivals Abramovich- owned Chelsea.

According to a regulatory filing, Disney will take a 49% stake in 7TV and rebrand it under the Disney Channel.

Wells Fargo ( WFC) is close to buying a loan unit of Bank of Ireland ( IRE), according to reports from Bloomberg citing unnamed sources familiar with the deal. The unit, called Burdale, makes loans secured against assets for Bank of Ireland, which is the largest bank in Ireland.

Bank of Ireland is also one of the few Irish banks not nationalized by the government as a result of souring property loans. Earlier this year, to remain privately owned, the bank received $1.6 billion from a consortium of investors that included Wilbur Ross-run WL Ross & Co.

For Wells Fargo, the deal would be a rare push into Europe. In 2010, Wells Fargo bought back a piece of its online payments and financing joint venture with HSBC ( HBC) called Wells Fargo HSBC Trade Bank for $171 million, according to Bloomberg data.

Wells Fargo's largest deals since the crisis have been a 2008 purchase of Wachovia and a $4.5 billion buyout of a 38% stake in Wells Fargo Advisors, a retail brokerage joint venture with Prudential Financial ( PRU) in 2009.

-- Written by Antoine Gara in New York.