SABMiller is rumoured to be closer to the acquisition of Colombian brewer Grupo Empresarial Bavaria. The London-based company is reported to have been in close competition with Heineken to secure ownership of South America's second-largest brewer.

Industry sources have suggested that a deal looks more likely after a senior executive at SABMiller is thought to have met the president of Colombia for dinner last week to secure political backing for the purchase. Alvaro Uribe was in London to meet Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The acquisition of Bavaria is widely-estimated to be worth around US$7bn including debt. The brewer is currently 70% controlled by the Santo Domingo family, who have spent most of this year ruling out a takeover but saying they would consider a merger going forward.

Bavaria, which holds dominant market share in Colombia, Panama, Ecuador and Peru, is considered to be one of the last easy entry points into Latin America for global brewers who are seeing sales slow in the mature markets of the US and western Europe.

When contacted by just-drinks today (18 July), SABMiller declined to comment on the rumours.