The Takeover Panel has given Carlsberg and Heineken until 21 January to make a bid for Scottish & Newcastle or walk away.

The two brewers have already tabled two offers for S&N but they have been rejected by S&N as “unsolicited and derisory” and “an effort to get S&N's unique portfolio of businesses on the cheap”.

S&N said it welcomed the 'put up or shut up' deadline, reiterating that Carlsberg and Heineken's latest 750p-a-share offer was “wholly inadequate”.

“The consortium persists in its attempt to secure S&N's unique portfolio of businesses on the cheap,” added S&N chairman Sir Brian Stewart. “We have made our position on the consortium's proposal very clear and it is now time for Carlsberg and Heineken to put forward an offer which properly values S&N or to move on.”

In a joint statement, Carlsberg and Heineken said: "We urge S&N to open talks with us as soon as possible so we can agree the terms of a formal recommended offer by the deadline.”