Lion Nathan is close to exiting its loss-making beer operations in China, according to press reports. The Australian Financial Review, quoting unidentified industry sources, said that at least four large international brewing groups have undertaken due diligence on Lion Nathan's assets in the country.

Sources suggested to the newspaper that a deal could be signed later this month, with Heineken, Interbrew, SABMiller, and Anheuser-Busch undertaking due diligence. The newspaper added that an outright sale is expected, at a significant premium, of Lion Nathan's operations in the Yangtze River delta region in the country.

Lion Nathan's China business has accumulated losses of more than A$200m (US$139.3m) in the past nine years, the newspaper noted.