Lion Nathan is looking to get the nod from Australia's competition watchdog to purchase Independent Liquor in New Zealand, according to local reports.

The Trans-Tasman drinks group, which got the green light from New Zealand's Commerce Commission last month, has applied to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for clearance to buy Independent should it wish to do so.

The Australian Financial Review said today (9 October) that Lion made the application on 19 September, with the ACCC announcing its decision at the end of this month.

"As with our application to the New Zealand Commerce Commission, we have applied to the ACCC for clearance to acquire Independent Liquor should we want to make an offer," James Tait, Lion's corporate affairs manager, told the newspaper.

Independent, producer of RTD brands including Vodka Cruiser, Mudshake and FX, is believed to be worth up to A$1.1bn (US$839m).

Other parties rumoured to be interested are Diageo and Foster's Group, although just-drinks understands that Foster's is not keen on buying Independent.

"Foster's interest in Independent is low," a source familiar to the situation told just-drinks earlier this month. "They're looking at it, but would only consider buying the company if it was available at a knockout price."

When contacted by just-drinks today, Diageo declined to comment on the matter.

Several Australian private equity funds are also thought to be interested in the company.