British-based brewer SABMiller has accused takeover target Foster's of releasing misleading and deceptive statements in the face of its hostile takeover bid, Australia's takeover panel said Friday.
Foster's, which owns Australia's largest brewer Carlton and United Breweries, is battling a US$10-billion takeover bid from the world's second biggest brewer.
The Australian brand rejected the bid as insufficient in June, prompting SABMiller to decide to take its offer direct to shareholders with a proposal for a conditional, off-market, buyout of all issued shares.
Australia's Takeovers Panel said Friday it had received an application from SABMiller questioning some statements in Foster's full-year results, announced in August, in which the company posted a full-year net loss of Aus$89 million (US$95 million).
"SABMiller submits (among other things) that: there is no reasonable basis for several forward-looking statements in the Results Presentation... concerning Foster's financial performance," the Takeovers Panel said.
"Even if there were a reasonable basis, no information is provided to allow shareholders to test the basis of the statement."
Foster's, which in announcing the results listed mid-single-digit sales growth among its financial objectives, made no immediate comment.
The panel, a peer review body which aims to resolve takeover disputes, made no comment on the merits of the application and said no decision had been made as to whether to conduct proceedings.
But it said SABMiller, which makes Grolsch and Miller Lite, also questioned the pro forma net debt figure of Aus$887 million in the Foster's results presentation saying it was inconsistent with Australian accounting standards.
SABMiller submits that some statements "do not meet the standards required in statements made in the context of a takeover bid, and are misleading and deceptive," the panel said.