Asahi Breweries and Lotte Group have denied reports that they are colluding to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev's Oriental Brewery in South Korea for over US$1bn.

Japan's top financial daily, the Nikkei, ran a report yesterday (5 February) citing an unnamed source at Asahi as saying the brewer had confirmed such talks with Lotte to jointly acquire South Korea's second-largest brewer for between $1.1bn and $1.6bn.

The Nikkei has a track record of breaking news of such mergers and takeovers long before they are official.

"Counter to claims in the press, Asahi has no plans at the moment to make such an offer," a spokesman said on behalf of the Japanese beer maker.

OB declined to comment, although its acquisition by a Japanese brewer is highly likely given that the yen has almost doubled its strength against the won in recent months.