Kirin Holdings has said that no deal has been reached on a potential merger with brewing rival Suntory, but the group did not deny talks between the two rivals.

Kirin and Suntory, two of Japan's biggest alcoholic drinks makers and fierce rivals, are considering a merger, according to a report today (13 July) in Japanese business publication Nikkei.

In a statement today, Kirin refused to either confirm or deny the report.

But, the group appeared to indicate that the door may be open for a deal: "Kirin and Suntory have already collaborated in various operational areas such as distribution and procurement. However, nothing has been resolved or reached an agreement in the area of business merger."

Even if a deal was agreed, competition authorities in Japan could still move to block a deal. Kirin and Suntory combined would control around half of the Japanese beer market.

Kirin has actively pursued deals so far in 2009. The group has signed a distribution deal with Diageo in Japan. It has also agreed to take full control of Australian brewer Lion Nathan and accumulated a 48% stake in San Miguel Brewery.