Diageo, Heineken and Namibia Breweries (NBL) have received the go-ahead for their joint venture. The three companies said on Friday that South Africa's competition commission has approved a joint sales, marketing and distribution venture in the country. Approval was granted on 2 March.

The move signals a battle for market share in South Africa, where SABMiller dominates, with a 98% stranglehold. Diageo and Heineken took an effective 28.9% stake in Namibia Breweries last year. NBL plans to brew Heineken in Namibia.

In a statement, NBL's chairman Sven Thieme said: "This decision sanctions the commencement of an exciting phase that will step up the remarkable growth of NBL's popular premium brands in South Africa."

The three companies are now in negotiations to finalise the terms of the joint venture.

"Namibia Breweries is already established as a major player in the growing premium beer segment in southern Africa, through a well-established portfolio of brands and excellent customer relationships. The company intends accelerating its expansion on the African continent as part of its growth strategy," the statement said.