Interbrew has emerged as the favourite to make a bid for the German brewer Beck's. But the Belgian brewer has refused to confirm that it is prepared to make an offer. There is speculation that Interbrew has put a £1bn price tag on Beck's which is well above the sum that other global players, including Anheuser-Busch and Scottish and Newcastle, were prepared to pay. Earlier this month Beck's shareholders agreed to the sale of the company and City firm Goldman Sachs has been sounding out potential bidders. A Scottish and Newcastle spokeswoman said the company had been in informal discussions with Beck's, but pointed out that, as one of its major global partners, this was normal practice. The company has been linked with Beck's since 1982 and has a secure long term contract to sell its beer in the UK. She expressed surprise at the rumoured £1bn offer and said: "We have worked with Beck's for a long time and we think we know what it is worth." She also suggested the combination of Stella Artois and Beck's in one portfolio would attract the interest of the competition authorities. {{NEWS }}

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