Interbrew has won the go-ahead to pursue a judicial review of the UK Competition Commission's decision in January to block the Belgian brewer's £2.3bn acquisition of Bass Brewers.

The action will give Interbrew at least until the end of the year to complete the disposal.

Hearings are expected to take place at the High Court in London in May or June with a decision in July.

Interbrew is challenging the remedy of having to sell Bass in one piece to one buyer acceptable to the British Government rather than challenging the ruling per se.

Analysts say the disposal should make cash available for further acquisitions.

The Belgian government is thought to be continuing with its own challenge in the European Court of Justice.

The news came after the announcement of an annual loss before tax of Eu974m (£611m), after a Eu1.2bn

write-down related to the forced sale of Bass Brewers. The group turned in a profit the previous year of Eu263m (£165m).

Interbrew saw compound growth of 8% from 1990-1998 and has increased its market share in more than 50 markets this year. Worldwide, it has sold more than 7.3m hectolitres (hl) and in its largest market, the UK, it increased this year from 3.6m hl to 4m hl.

Pierre Jean Everaert will replace Baron Paul De Keersmaeker as chairman on April 24.

The company is also appointing a former Belgian prime minister, Jean-Luc Dehaene, to the board as a non-executive director.

Interbrew will enter the Euronext 100 index on April 2.