The Belgian brewing group, Interbrew, has said that it believes French competition authorities will rule in its favour and order its competitors, Heineken and Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), to sell some of its distribution assets in France.

Heineken and S&N dominate the French beer market, an issue which the French competition authorities have been investigating.

Interbrew's CEO, John Brock, told Reuters that staff in the competition commission had formed the opinion that Heineken and S&N should be required to dispose of some distribution but this had not yet become the official view of the commission. After the commission has given its ruling, the final decision would be left to the French finance ministry.

"The clerks...have come to the view which is: Heineken and (S&N's) Kronenbourg should dispose of some of their distribution systems," Brock told Reuters. "(The clerks think) they should sell them to a financially viable and truly independent third party. That's obviously great news from our standpoint. We think it's right. It's clearly a duopoly, and they (S&N and Heineken) are clearly working hard to keep us out."

Neither S&N nor Heineken made any comment on Brock's statement. Both said they had had no contact from the competition authorities. A final decision is expected before the end of the year.