Guangdong Brewery Holdings is in talks to sell a 21 per cent stake to one of the world's top five breweries, marking the latest attempt by an international brewer to break into the mainland's highly competitive beer market. The Guangdong government-backed brewer announced plans to take on a strategic investor after recent tie-ups between the world's top three brewers and China's leading beer producers that paired Tsingtao Brewery with Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller with China Resources Brewery and Harbin Brewery, and Interbrew with Zhujiang Joint Stock which produces Zhujiang beer. Guangdong Brewery said it had agreed to negotiate with 'one of the world's top five international brewery groups by sales' on an exclusive basis for 60 days over a possible sale of its shares. 'The negotiations are progressing smoothly and very well,' said Guangdong Brewery chief financial officer Stephen Fung Sing-hong, declining to provide details or identify the potential investor. He said the company aimed to conclude the talks before the 60-day period was up. The world's leading brewers have been buying into China's biggest brewers to secure a slice of what is potentially the world's biggest market, rather than setting up joint ventures. An industry source has ruled out Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller and Interbrew as prospective investors, and an official from the world's No5 brewer, Carlsberg, said in Shanghai it was not in talks with Guangdong Brewery. No4 Heineken was tipped as a probable candidate, but a company official in Shanghai said: 'There is nothing we can say now.' Guangdong Brewery said the imminent sale would comprise existing and new shares, equal to 21 per cent of its enlarged share capital. The company proposed selling the shares at $1.85 each, a 2.63 per cent discount to yesterday's closing price of $1.90. News of the sale drove the stock up 4.39 per cent yesterday.