Brewer SABMiller Plc expects to see beer volume growth at its newly acquired Australian business Foster's by the end of 2012, after volumes were hit by heavy rainfall, the distraction of a bid battle and depressed consumer sentiment.

The London-based group took over Foster's late last year and in the six-month bid battle its beer volumes fell 4.5 percent, in line with the Australian beer market, but it is now targeting an annual rise of 1 to 3 percent over the medium term.

Over the next six months we will seek improvement and some general stabilisation, and then look to see some growth by the early summer, said Ari Mervis, SABMiller's Asia Pacific managing director and also chief executive of Foster's.

Mervis, speaking to an investor briefing on Tuesday, added that Foster's beer sales had suffered from heavy rainfall in New South Wales and Queensland in the current summer drawing to a close, and its volume declined further in the last three months of 2011 to show a fall of 6 percent.

SABMiller sealed its A$11.5 billion (7.5 billion pounds cash deal, including debt, to acquire Foster's in December 2011 after first launching a bid in June giving it Australia's bigger brewer and maker of Victoria Bitter, Carlton Draught and Pure Blonde.

SABMiller's biggest-ever takeover gave it a leading 45 percent of the Australian beer market, and despite weather problems, Mervis sees Australia as an attractive economy and beer industry in which to operate.

Foster's competes with Lion Nathan, owned by Japan's Kirin <2503.T>, in a near beer market duopoly in Australia.

The group also set a medium-term target beginning in its financial year starting April 1 for annual revenue growth of 5 to 8 percent.

The brewer also said it would make annual cost savings of A$180 million by year four, which ends in March 2016. It had given no target before but analysts had looked for savings of around A$150 million.

(Reporting by David Jones; Editing by David Holmes)