Interbrew has announced today that is has closed its transaction with the Malaysian Lion Group. The closure means that Interbrew now has a controlling interest in Lion Group's beer business in China.

The closure now positions the group as the third largest brewer in China with 21 million hectolitres sold per annum by 17 breweries present in 6 major provinces: Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu and Shandong.

The brewer expects to achieve a number one position in the Zhejiang (47m inhabitants), Guangdong* (78m) and Hubei (60 mm) provinces; a top 3 position in Hunan (64m) and Jiangsu (74m); and a small presence in the Shandong province (91m).

In a statement, Patrice J. Thys, Interbrew Zone President Asia-Pacific, said: "In addition to strong volumes, well-entrenched brands and local dominance, we have, through this transaction inherited a strong local management team which is a key resource we intend to fully leverage through ongoing training and development to deliver Interbrew's vision for the country."

In a separate development, Interbrew announced yesterday that it had taken over distribution of its premium beer brand Beck's in China. Lion Nathan had produced and distributed the beer in the market since 2001.