Anheuser-Busch has stayed silent on reports in India that it has decided on a local venture partner in the fast-growing beer market.

The Budweiser brewing giant has been mulling whether to enter India for months. A report in India's Economic Times newspaper said yesterday (23 January) that A-B has decided to set up a venture with Crown Breweries in Hyderabad.

The report also said that A-B has appointed a key marketing executive, Robert Newman, to lead the business and named S Cariappa, an ex-SABMiller employee, to lead its brewing operations.

However, when contacted by just-drinks today, A-B declined to comment, saying only that it is still weighing up plans to enter the market.

Last month, Steve Burrows, president and CEO of A-B's international operations, told just-drinks that the brewer would decide whether to enter India "probably within three months".

After talks with a number of players in India, the US brewer has settled on one unnamed target and is deciding whether to make a formal approach.

"Internally, we've settled on who to approach and we're now in the process of making sure that any approach meets our strict financial criteria for entry into India," Burrows then said.

The world's brewing giants believe the booming Indian beer market will be a vital growth market in years to come thanks to growing disposable incomes and a burgeoning middle class in the country.

United Breweries, in which Scottish & Newcastle owns a 37.5% stake, and SABMiller are the two largest brewers in India, holding a combined 80% of the market. This year, Heineken's Asian brewing partner, Asia Pacific Breweries and, more recently, Carlsberg have also signalled their entries into a market growing at around 7% a year.