One of the largest shareholders in the Colombian brewer, Bavaria, has said in a letter to the Colombian securities regulatory authority that no formal offer to acquire or merge the company has been received. However, the shareholder did say that a deal may be reached by the end of 2005.

"No offer has materialized," Panama's Energetic and Financial Investment said. "We hope that before the end of the year we will complete an operation in relation to our investment." The letter appeared on the regulator's website.

The regulator requested that Bavaria's major shareholder respond to media reports that SABMiller was planning to table a bid to acquire Bavaria in the very near future.

Energetic and Financial Investment said it was currently in talks with several international brewers and was studying several different options which "may turn up attractive for them and for us."

Other companies known to be interested in Bavaria include Heineken and Scottish & Newcastle, with analysts valuing the company at between US$6 billion and US$9 billion.