Danish brewer Carlsberg has played down reports that it has struck an agreement to enter the Indian beer market.

Reports in India today (6 October) said that Carlsberg had signed a deal to buy Himneel Breweries for around INR350m (US$7.8m).

Carlsberg stepped up its plans to enter the fast-growing Indian beer market earlier this year with talks with a number of domestic brewers. The brewer, like its fellow multinational rivals, is keen to tap into booming demand for beer in India.

However, a spokesman for Carlsberg said there were "a lot of rumours" surrounding talks but that the situation remained "unchanged".

He said: "We still think it's an interesting market for us but until now we have not come to a conclusion. In Asia, things take a lot of time and suddenly they speed up but the situation remains unchanged."

The spokesman added: "India is a very complicated market and you have to do your homework before concluding an agreement. In Asia, we are focused on China and IndoChina, so if we decide to enter India as well, we have to be well-prepared."

Anheuser-Busch has also been linked with a deal to enter India but yesterday refused to be drawn on reports that it was set to buy Crown Breweries, based outside Hyderabad.

United Breweries and SABMiller dominate the Indian beer market, which is growing at 6-7% a year as the country's economy continues to grow.