Japanese brewer Sapporo looks set to buy Sleeman Breweries after agreeing a takeover deal worth around C$400m (US$355.4m) with the Canadian beer maker.

Sapporo, which already sees Sleeman brew its brands for the Canadian market, said late on Friday (11 August) that it had agreed a C$17.50-a-share offer.

Nobuhiro Hashiba, managing director of Sapporo, called the deal an "important step" for Sleeman, which has seen profits hit by growing Canadian demand for discounted beers and imported brews.

Hashiba said: "We have developed a strong relationship with Sleeman through our contract brewing arrangement and this acquisition enables Sapporo to continue to expand Sleeman's quality brewing heritage."

Sapporo was one of four brewers said to be interested in buying Sleeman, which in May started looking at the future of the business. Canada's top two brewers, Molson and Labatt, as well as Dutch brewer Grolsch were also rumoured to be interested in buying Sleeman.

However, Sleeman chairman and CEO John Sleeman said Sapporo would grow the business and safeguard a number of jobs at the Guelph-based brewer.

He said: "Sleeman has an owner with the financial resources and track record to continue to grow and build Sleeman's national portfolio of premium brands. This transaction will allow Sleeman to be more competitive in the premium beer category and continue to build the business."

He added that the proposed transaction would provide "a strong future for both Sleeman employees and Sleeman brands".

The agreement forbids Sleeman from soliciting for any rival bid, while Sapporo has the right to match any competing offer, the two companies said.

Sleeman's board has recommended the offer to its shareholders, two-thirds of whom must accept the offer for it to get the green light. The two companies expect the deal to be sealed in October.