Britvic is likely to be sold to the company headed by former Bass Brewers chief Iain Napier, according to City sources.
Analysts have been assessing the runners and riders hoping to acquire the soft drinks company after the bidding process for Britvic entered its second round.
With sealed bids submitted by up to eight hopefuls, investment bank Schroder Salomon Smith Barney will now whittle the contenders down to three or four firm bids, over the next few weeks.
Britvic was put up for auction earlier this year by its joint owners Six Continents, Allied Domecq, Whitbread and PepsiCo.
Mr Napier, backed by private equity group Cinven, is thought to be most likely to succeed because of his hands-on experience of Britvic while at Bass Brewers.
However, another City-backed venture, headed by former Whitbread brewing boss Miles Templeman, as well as a bid by Pepsi Bottling Group Inc, which is 40 per cent owned by PepsiCo, are also serious contenders for the business.
A final decision is unlikely before the new year.