Lion Nathan would be the front-runner in any sale of New Zealand spirits group Independent Distillers, investment bank Goldman Sachs JBWere has said.

Goldman Sachs said it believed Independent Distillers could be up for sale following the death of its founder Michael Erceg last November.

Independent Distillers focuses on the discount beer and RTD segments in New Zealand and has expanded its operations to Australia and the UK. Goldman said the company could command a price tag of around A$1bn (US$743m).

"In our view, Lion Nathan's thirst for an RTD business and its Trans-Tasman asset footprint makes it the leading contender in any potential sale," Goldman said today (7 February).

Goldman also named New Zealand beer maker DB Breweries, a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Breweries, as another potential suitor.

Lion Nathan officials could not be reached for comment as just-drinks went to press.