The UK's takeover regulator has given brewers Carlsberg and Heineken until January 21st to make a formal offer for rival Scottish & Newcastle (S&N).
S&N welcomed the 'put up or shut up' deadline confirmed by the Takeover Panel, which means its suitors must end their interest in the company if a formal bid is not put forward.
In a joint statement Carlsberg and Heineken also welcomed the timetable and urged S&N to begin talks with them over the company's future "as soon as possible", in order to foster an agreement over the terms of a formal offer for the group.
However S&N repeated its belief the offer for its business previously proposed by the two companies was "wholly inadequate".
Edinburgh-based S&N, whose brands include Fosters, Kronenbourg 1664 and John Smith's, rejected a proposed 750p-a-share joint bid by Carlsberg and Heineken last month on the grounds it undervalued its operations.
The company also commenced arbitration proceedings against Carlsberg, in order to force its rival to surrender the stake it holds in the joint venture the two companies currently operate in the Baltic states.
S&N insists Danish brewer Carlsberg breached the terms of their ownership agreement concerning Baltic Beverages Holdings (BBH) by making a joint bid for its business with competitor Heineken.
Its row with Carlsberg over the future of BBH is significant as the business controls Russia's largest beer company, Baltika and generates significant profits for both its owners.
Responding to the Takeover Panel's announcement, S&N chairman, Sir Brian Stewart, said: "The consortium persists in its attempt to secure S&N's unique portfolio of businesses on the cheap.
"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."
Carlsberg and Heineken said they believed the deadline would "focus all parties on the merits of our proposal and consequences of S&N shareholders missing out on a value creating transaction".