Quinsa, Argentina's leading brewer, has agreed to sell a 36% voting stake to the Brazilian-based Latin American drinks corporation, Companhia de Bebidas das Americas, also known as AmBev, for US$346.4m.

In return, Quinsa, part of the Quilmes Industrial group, will take on some of the Brazilian company's operations in certain Latin American countries.

Quinsa, which owns the leading beer company in Argentina, Quilmes, is to take on the AmBev operations in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay in return for 26.4m new class B shares in Quinsa.

The two parties said combining operations in those countries would save costs and allow them both to compete more effectively with international competition.

Also as part of the deal, AmBev will distribute Quilmes brands in Brazil. AmBev is to buy 230.92m class A Quinsa shares for US$346.38m from the company's controlling shareholders, giving it 36.09% of the voting rights and 37.5% of the economic interest in Quinsa which recorded sales of US$939m in 2001.

AmBev sales in 2001 stood at US$2.78 billion. The deal is subject to approval by anti-trust authorities.