The pending privatisation of Budejovicky Budvar took a step closer this week, with three law firms submitting bids to the Czech government.

The country's Agriculture ministry confirmed the tenders yesterday (13 December), but did not name the interested firms.

The Government is looking to legally change Budvar from a state-owned brewer to a joint-stock company, prior to privatising the company before the end of its current term in office in 2010.

Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic was cited by Dow Jones yesterday as saying that the legal adviser, when chosen, will work to ensure that the transformation of Budvar's status proceeds without endangering the legal continuity of the company's trademark rights around the world.

Budvar has been locked in legal battles with Anheuser-Busch for over 100 years over the 'Budweiser' trademark. The two companies have a distribution deal in the US, however, where A-B imports and sells Budvar's Czechvar brand. The Czech brewer cannot use the Budweiser name in the US market.

Both A-B and InBev have been linked to a possible bid for Budvar, although neither has consistently commented on the reports.

Budvar is thought to be worth between CZK20bn (US$1.01bn) and CZK40bn.

No-one was available to offer clarification at the Czech Ministry of Agriculture when contacted by just-drinks today, although Dow Jones cited Gandalovic as saying the Government will begin assessing the three offers next month.