Carlsberg has pulled out of the race to buy the remaining Asian assets of Foster's Group, the Danish brewing giant revealed today (23 June).

Jesper Madsen, the head of Carlsberg's operations in Asia, told just-drinks that the brewer had looked at the remaining Foster's assets up for sale in India and Vietnam but had decided not to pursue its interest. "We're not involved (in the bidding)," Madsen said, although he refused to outline why.

Carlsberg, which has brewing operations in Asian countries including China, Vietnam, Laos and Malaysia has lowered its ambitious target of becoming the largest brewer on the continent by 2010.

Madsen admitted that Carlsberg would have been "stretched" to achieve that goal, which had become "more challenging" since it sold its stake in South Korean brewer Hite earlier this month.

He said: "You don't need to be in Korea to have a coherent Asian strategy. We still have a good, healthy business in Asia. A pan-Asian brewer hardly exists except for Carlsberg and maybe Asia Pacific Breweries. From a penetration point of view, Carlsberg is probably number one in Asia but we don't have a Tsingtao or Asahi-type brewery to take us to the top (of the rankings)."

Despite its wide presence in Asia, Carlsberg has found a way to enter the fast-growing Indian beer market. Madsen said that Carlsberg had "identified certain potential players we could work with" - but declined to go into details.

Carlsberg's Asian volumes leapt 28% to 7.6m hectolitres last year, driven by acquisitions in western China. Organic volumes were up 5%.