Anheuser-Busch InBev has picked private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co (KKR) as preferred buyer for Oriental Brewery, South Korea's second-biggest beer maker, an OB official said on Monday.

Online news outlet MoneyToday earlier cited an industry source as saying KKR raised its bid for Oriental Brewery to more than $1.9 billion and accepted most of InBev's demands, trumping rival bids from Affinity Equity Partners and MBK Partners.

KKR has raised its price several times, changing the aspect of the auction, the unnamed source was quoted as saying. My understanding is that InBev would sign a SPA (share purchase agreement) with KKR.

An OB official confirmed KKR had been picked as a buyer, but declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media. OB spokeswoman Karen Kim declined to comment.

A banking source, working for one of the three bidding firms, also said KKR, a U.S. private equity house, was understood to have been picked as the buyer.

The online report said KKR scored highly with its financing plan, with strong commitment from foreign banks, though MBK Partners' offer had been the highest.

It added that KKR had accepted InBev's request for paying an additional $100 million if OB's EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) topped estimates in two years after the sale.

With Goldman Sachs as adviser, KKR has JPMorgan, Standard Chartered and HSBC among its backers, as well as Calyon, ING Bank, Natixis and Nomura <8604.T>, Reuters Basis Point had reported.

KKR and MBK Partners could not immediately be reached for comment. An Affinity official said he could not confirm the report.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world's largest brewer, is looking to sell off non-core assets and repay debt.

MBK is advised by Morgan Stanley and has Hana and Korea Development Bank behind it, Basis Point had said.

JPMorgan and Deutsche Bank are running the OB sale process.

(Editing by Chris Lewis and Ian Geoghegan)