Will Carlsberg win the race for Chongqing Beer Groups remaining breweries?

Will Carlsberg win the race for Chongqing Beer Group's remaining breweries?

Chongqing Beer Group is looking to exit the beer business by selling its last nine breweries, although Carlsberg has declined to comment on whether it will acquire them.

The state-owned unit said late last week that it has put an asset management company, comprising nine breweries and a malthouse, up for auction. The facilities are scattered around in the eastern provinces of Anhui, Zhejiang and Jiangsu.

In a statement, Chongqing United Asset and Equity Exchange said that the auction will end on 20 December, with a starting price set at CNY1.56bn (US$254.6m). The assets had been put up for sale in 2011 for CNY2.4bn, but no buyer was found.

According to online news site, Sina Finance, the nine breweries have a brewing capacity of around 10m hectolitres. The facilities are running at a loss, however: Last year, between 4m and 5m hectolitres of beer was produced at the breweries.

Local reports late last week suggested that Carlsberg intends to bid for the assets. Earlier this month, China Securities Regulatory Commission gave Carlsberg the go-ahead to increase its stake in Chongqing Brewery from 29.7% to 60%. Chongqing Beer Group owns 20% of Chongqing Brewery, but offered to sell its stake to Carlsberg as part of the Danish firm's purchase.

When contacted by just-drinks today, however, a spokesperson for Carlsberg declined to comment on the local reports.

Should the stake sale and the asset auction both complete, Chongqing Beer Group would no longer have a presence in China's brewing industry.

To read an exclusive just-drinks' focus on China's beer market, click here.