The race for ownership of Empresarial Bavaria could be settled within the next few weeks, according to press reports. Speaking to Reuters yesterday (20 June), a source close to the situation said that SABMiller is poised to buy the Colombian brewer for around US$7bn including debt from Bavaria's controlling Santo Domingo family. The UK-based company is hoping to have the acquisition secured by next month, the source told Reuters.

SABMiller and Heineken are presently leading the pack in the rush to snap up Bavaria, according to speculation. The sources told the press agency that both companies have been asked to renew their interest in the Colombian company and put forward firm proposals to acquire Bavaria before the end of this month.

When questioned by Reuters, a spokesman for Bavaria said: "We have heard the reports but have no comment on them. We don't know who is the source of these reports."

"The Santo Domingo family has conducted due diligence on both potential buyers and is assessing the merits of each one," one source close to the situation told Reuters.

"SABMiller is clearly in the driving seat and determined to clinch a deal to gain one of the last remaining big regional brewing deals left," another source close to the auction added.

A spokesman for SABMiller declined to comment when contacted by just-drinks.

Bavaria is worth in the region of US$6.8bn, including US$1.7bn of debt.