Krombacher may follow Carlsberg down the acquisition trail, according to local press reports. Germany's largest private brewery has not ruled out buying other breweries in the country as consolidation in the industry heats up.

Following Carlsberg's acquisition of Holsten, and Oetker's purchase of Brau und Brunnen earlier this year, the German beer industry is set to focus on consolidation through 2004.

Speaking with Handelsblatt newspaper, Krombacher managing director Hans-Juergen Grabias said: "We also don't rule out making acquisitions."

Brau und Brunnen chairman Michale Hollman told the newspaper at a Handelsblatt event in Hamburg: "The consolidation within the German beer market will now gather pace. I am talking about months, not years."