Merger talks between Molson Inc. and Adolph Coors Co. have reached a critical stage, according to press reports. The Wall Street Journal reported today that negotiations are at a sensitive stage and could fall apart, citing unspecified people familiar with the matter.

Several hurdles remain for any potential deal, most notably a feud among Molson family members who control the Montreal-based company's voting stock, the Journal said.

Although the terms of a possible deal are still being discussed, one scenario calls for Molson Chairman Eric Molson to be named chairman of the combined company, while Coors Chief Executive Leo Kiely could be CEO, the Journal said.

Last month, Molson's deputy chairman Ian Molson quit amid succession concerns at the 218-year-old company.

A merger with Coors, favoured by Eric Molson, could face strong opposition from his cousin Ian Molson, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

A shareholder agreement between Ian and Eric Molson forbids either from selling or transferring their voting shares without the consent of the other, according to the newspaper.

The Journal said a Molson spokeswoman declined to comment on any specific talks, but noted that the two brewers already work together on distribution agreements and that "we do have conversations and we do have discussions with them. We are always assessing our strategic alternatives in an industry that's faced with consolidation."