Lotte Group has re-entered the bidding race to buy Anheuser-Busch InBev's Oriental Brewery in South Korea, according to reports.

Lotte Group, which was initially reported to have fallen out of favour after the first round of bidding at the end of February, has rejoined the list of potential suitors after raising its offer price, according to a Reuters report today (1 April).

Analysts widely expect Oriental to be sold, possibly for up to US$2.5bn, although Anheuser-Busch InBev has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter.

The brewing giant has set a 10 April deadline for the sale, according to the Reuters report, citing sources close to the situation. Lotte's rivals for the deal are believed to include several private equity firms, while SABMiller and Asahi are also thought to have shown interest.

Oriental, which is South Korea's second largest brewer, was originally expected to be sold to help A-B InBev finance a US$7bn bridge loan taken out to help pay for InBev's $52bn takeover of its US rival.

A-B InBev has since eased the pressure for disposals, however, announcing last month that it has made better-than-expected progress on cost savings from the takeover. It expects to save $1bn in 2008.

Sanford Bernstein analyst Trevor Stirling said last month that the brewer "not need to do any disposals in 2009".

He said: "We continue to believe that management is committed to achieving $7bn of disposals, and indeed is very strongly incentivised to de-lever, but there is no need for a fire sale of assets."