Diageo has formally registered its interest in New Zealand's Independent Liquor.

The UK drinks giant has applied to Australia's Competition and Consumer Commission for clearance to conduct due diligence on Independent, the producer of RTD brands including Vodka Cruiser, Mudshake and FX.

"As you would expect, Diageo is constantly monitoring the market for opportunities to grow our business," the company told just-drinks today (25 October).

"Where appropriate, we look to supplement organic growth by strategic acquisition. At this point, we are still investigating this opportunity and an application to the ACCC is just one part of the process."

Independent was put up for sale last year following the death of founder Michael Erceg. Analysts have valued the company at around A$1.1bn (US$829m).

Three other drinks heavyweights, Lion Nathan, Foster's Group and Coca-Cola Amatil, as well as two private equity groups, are also said to be in the race for Independent.

Of those potential suitors, Lion has made the clearest indication that it is interested in Independent, having applied to both Australia's and New Zealand's competition watchdogs for clearance for a bid, should it wish to do so.