The Belgian brewing conglomerate, Interbrew, has acquired a 9.37% stake in the leading Serbian brewer, Apatin, for €16.8m.

The deal expands Interbrew's interests in the Balkan region. The company already has operations in Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia, as well as stakes in brewers in Bulgaria, Slovenia and Hungary.

"This acquisition fits into our strategy of balancing our mature and emerging market investments," said Interbrew spokesman, Corneel Maes.

Apatin controls around 40% of the Serbian beer market with Jelen its main brand. The Serbian beer market is growing, with per capita consumption currently standing at around 55 litres and more drinkers turning to beer from traditional Eastern European hard liquor.