Japan's Sapporo Holdings is reportedly mulling an effective takeover bid from US hedge fund Steel Partners Japan.

Sapporo Holdings, the parent of the company's third-largest beer maker Sapporo Breweries, has yet to come to a decision on the offer, according to the Associated Press today (16 February).

Steel Partners said yesterday that it has proposed a plan to raise its stake in Sapporo to the Japanese company's management. Under the proposal, Steel Partners would increase its stake in Sapporo from 17.52% to 66.6%.

Steel Partners said it has "high regard" for the management and employees of Sapporo, which owns Canada's Sleeman Breweries.

Today, Sapporo and rival Japanese brewer Asahi Breweries both moved to deny local reports that Asahi would emerge as a "white knight" to fight off the approach from Steel Partners.

Sapporo said today that that net income fell to JPY2.3bn (US$19.3m) in 2006, from JPY3.6bn a year earlier. However, the company insists earnings will soar by 41% this year to JPY3.3bn.