Brewer Scottish & Newcastle - parent of Hereford-based cider maker Bulmers - yesterday said it expected to submit details of a dispute with Carlsberg to an arbitration panel in the near future and the spat could be resolved by June.

S&N has rejected a £7.3 billion joint bid approach from Denmark's Carlsberg and Dutch group Heineken and claims that, through the bid, Carlsberg has breached the terms of a 50-50 Russian venture between it and the Danish brewer.

The joint venture, Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH), is the jewel in the crown for both S&N and Carlsberg as it controls over 85 per cent of Baltika, the biggest brewer in Russia, the world's third-largest beer market, and makes a third of S&N's and Carlsberg's profits.

S&N, the brewer of Foster's, Kronenbourg and Newcastle Brown Ale, hopes through the dispute to gain full control of BBH.

The BBH agreement is confidential and drafted under Swedish law and so is being heard by a Swedish arbitration tribunal.

S&N had said previously that the tribunal was likely to take until June or July to make a ruling. Carlsberg had warned the dispute could take nine to 18 months.

Carlsberg and Heineken are proposing to buy S&N for 750 pence a share, up from an initial indicative bid of 720 pence a share, and are urging S&N shareholders to pressure the group's board into accepting a deal.

S&N said that The Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) had confirmed the appointment of a chairman to the tribunal that will hear the dispute, thereby completing its constitution.

"The rules of the SCC provide that, in most cases, an arbitration decision is expected within six months of the Arbitral Tribunal being constituted," S&N said in a statement.

"This suggests a decision would be expected before the end of June 2008. Arbitration decisions cannot be appealed except on procedural grounds."

S&N said it remained confident that the dispute would result in it being able to take full control of BBH. However, sources indicated yesterday that S&N might be prepared to open talks with the consortium of Carlsberg/Heineken for an offer of 775 pence.

A survey released by stockbroker Execution claimed that 56 per cent of S&N shareholders polled would accept an offer pitched at 775 pence a share, while an overwhelming majority would support an offer of 800 pence.

However, the source said neither of the numbers are actually on the table.

"If they were on the table, we might be able to discuss it, but clearly they are not," he said.

Execution estimated the 16 shareholders that responded speak for between 15 and 20 per cent of S&N's share capital.

S&N's large institutional shareholders have called for more transparency on Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH) figures in order to be able to evaluate the current 750 pence a share proposal, which values S&N at £7.3 billion.