Independent Distillers is not on Lion Nathan's shopping list, just-drinks understands.

Independent Distillers is considering its options following the death of its founder, Michael Erceg, in a helicopter crash last November. The New Zealand spirits group has appointed UBS to look at sale options.

Lion Nathan, meanwhile, confirmed yesterday (18 May) that it would enter the Australian RTD market in the second half of this year. At a media briefing yesterday (18 May), Lion Nathan's chief executive, Rob Murray, said: "Like any company of mass scale in this market, you'd expect us to evaluate the opportunities when they come along. But for now, as I've think we've shown in our approach to capital management, our focus is on managing our business and we'll review those opportunities as they come along."

Just-drinks understands that Lion Nathan is keener on joining the Australian RTD market from a smaller base, allowing it to build the brand better.

Independent Distillers focuses on the discount beer and RTD segments in New Zealand and has expanded its operations to Australia and the UK.

Earlier this year, investment bank Goldman Sachs suggested that Lion Nathan would be interested in the company. "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 in February. The bank added that the company could command a price tag of around A$1bn (US$743m).