China's largest beermaker Tsingtao Brewery, has backed Anheuser-Busch's move to acquire a 29% stake in Harbin Brewery, even though Anheuser already has a partnership with Tsingtao.

Tsingtao, in which Anheuser owns a 9% stake, said it believed the Harbin acquisition was of benefit to all parties concerned. Tsingtao's management had been notified of the move before the purchase, it said.

"Tsingtao supports Anheuser-Busch's action and believes that this transaction is beneficial to all parties," the company said in a statement.

The move by Anheuser prompted international rival SABMiller to launch a full takeover bid for Harbin. SABMiller already holds a 29% stake in the Hong Kong-based business.

However, it became apparent yesterday that SABMiller's bid would be a hostile one, with Harbin's CEO Peter Lo saying: "Since we signed the strategic investor agreement with SABMiller last June, SABMiller has done nothing good for us."

SABMiller and Harbin signed an accord when SABMiller bought a 29.41% share in the Chinese brewer. But Harbin terminated the partnership on Saturday.

Harbin's board said they considered SABMiller's bid, which was made yesterday, to be hostile. It has prompted speculation that Anheuser may launch a bid of its own.