Grupo Empresarial Bavaria is not looking to sell up, its president has confirmed. The Colombian brewer would strongly consider a merger rather than a sale.

Speaking to reporters after Bavaria's annual shareholders meeting yesterday (29 March), Ricardo Obregon said: "We are exploring alternatives. We are trying to find a world-class company willing to establish a strategic alliance."

Following rumours over the past few months of interest from SABMiller, Scottish & Newcastle and Heineken, Alejandro Santo Domingo, the son of billionaire Julio Mario Santo Domingo who owns 70% of Bavaria said earlier this week that the family is looking for a stock-swap transaction as opposed to a sale.

At the shareholders meeting, Obregon said that Bavaria plans to invest US$230m in beer plants and marketing strategies in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama. The new figure comes in higher than the initial US$150m that Obregon projected a month ago.

In Colombia, the company plans to spend US$40m in a new beer plant in Cali - Colombia's third largest city - that is currently under construction, and the reconfiguring of a Bucaramanga plant.

Obregon also said a good portion of Bavaria's Colombia budget will be spent on a marketing campaign. The company "expects to increase beer consumption from 3% to 7% in 2005," he said.

Bavaria will pay COP111bn in dividends this year. Stockholders will get COP425 per share, a 5% increase over last year.