Fourteen potential bidders have handed in letters of intent to buy South Korea's Jinro Ltd.

The spirits producer, along with its sale's lead manager, Merrill Lynch, has not provided names of any of the interested groups.

However, eight local groups were reported to have said they had submitted letters of intent, including Doosan Co, CJ Corp, Hite Brewery Co, Muhak, Daesang Corp, Taihan Electric Wire Co, Lotte Group and Dongwon Enterprise Co.

Among the foreign companies thought to be interested are the UK's Allied Domecq, Japan's Kirin Brewery, US investment fund Newbridge Capital, Citigroup's private equity arm and Affinity Equity Partners, a spin-off of parent bank UBS.

Final bids are due in by the end of March after a short list is drawn up by Jinro and due diligence conducted.

Jinro was placed in receivership in 2003, after its debts rose to KRW1.72 trillion.