Peru's only brewer, Backus y Johnston, which is at the centre of a bitter takeover battle, announced yesterday that it expects to more than double 2002 earnings from 116 million soles (US$32m) in 2001.

The increases, the company said, were due to an increase in beer sales and greater cost savings.

"(This year's profits) will be something more than double last year's ... due to better efficiency and increased sales," the president of Backus' board of directors Elias Bentin said in the press today.

Sales are expected to grow somewhere between 10% and 12% in 2002 from 865.8m soles in 2001.

Bentin said that operating efficiencies have included opening plants around the country to meet the demands of the local regions.

The brewer is subject of a takeover battle between Colombia's Bavaria and Venezuela's Cisneros Group and Venezuela's Empresas Polar. The country's market authority has been called in to investigate alleged misdoings by both sides.