A race has started for the acquisition of Grupo Empresarial Bavaria, with SABMiller leading the way, according to industry sources. The London-based company is one of a number of international brewers looking at the South American brewer, an industry source told Reuters today (20 January).

"It is true that they (SABMiller) are involved. But it is also true that probably almost every other big international brewer is involved as well," the source told Reuters.

"It's effectively an auction for the business (Bavaria). It's likely to take weeks, months in fact," the industry source told the press agency, adding that Heineken and Anheuser-Busch were also interested in Bavaria.

A separate source suggested to just-drinks that the process would realistically take around six months to reach a conclusion. While the FT.com Web site said earlier today that Bavaria could fetch about US$9bn, the source told just-drinks that US$5bn was a more appropriate figure.

Bavaria, controlled by Colombian business magnate Julio Mario Santo Domingo, dominates the beer markets in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador and Panama after a 3-year acquisition spree.

When contacted by just-drinks, SABMiller declined to comment on the matter.