(Image: Wikimedia Commons/Chris J. Moffett)

This is a story about how Foster's went from Australian icon to an orphan in the balance sheet of the world's biggest brewer in just nine years -- the one asset a desperate giant could see to relieve pressure from bankers nervous about a US$1 billion debt pile.

Foster's is as Australian as football (AFL, that is), meat pies, and Holden cars -- but since the days of John Elliott as its boss in the 1980s, it has been an asset that has been milked, abused, sold and shuffled.