The German brewer and soft drink producer Brau und Brunnen AG is negotiating with four bidders for the sale of the 55% currently owned by shareholder the HVB Group.

A spokesman for Brau und Brunnen said yesterday: "We are talking with two strategic and two financial investors, and we are convinced that the deal will likely be closed within this year."

It is not known whether any of the potential investors are foreign brewers but the spokeman confirmed that Radeberger Brauerei was interested.

Whoever finally buys the controlling stake, the spokesman said the investor would not make any further job cuts, beyond those made in the current restructuring. And neither would the company's twin interests of beer and soft drinks be split.

He said: "Brau und Brunnen is only on sale as a whole."