A jump in the share price of Foster's Brewing Group of 10% in two days, and heavy trading volumes in Foster's shares, led Australian commentators to speculate on a joint bid by Diageo and Scottish & Newcastle last week.

The scenario they put forward was that Diageo, owner of Guinness and UDV, and which recently bought Seagram's wine business, would take Foster's Beringer Blass wine division while Scottish & Newcastle acquired the beer operations. S&N brews Foster's lager under licence in Europe.

However, commentators in the UK dismissed the idea of a bid by the two British groups, saying neither had the capacity for even a joint bid at what would have to be around £4.8bn.

Observers of the

Australian scene suggested the rise in Foster's share price was because the group was seen as an ideal defensive play for investors concerned about the impact of a recession.