With little growth in the US and Western European beer markets, Carlsberg is looking to strengthen its share of the Asian market by entering into a joint venture with its Thai partner, Khun Charoen.

Under the terms of the 50:50 partnership which will be known as Carlsberg Asia, Carlsberg will focus on developing its brands in the Asian market through a fully controlled sales and distribution network covering the entire region.

Michael Iuul, group-managing director at Carlsberg said: "Historically there has been only a few Asian markets with significant beer consumption. But today, the situation is changing. Asia is the fastest growing market for beer in the world and Carlsberg Asia will seriously strengthen our presence in the region."

Carlsberg will also be the main brand, with development funded from the increased turnover and earnings. In a statement the company said: "It will be the spearhead in the build up of a new brewery and distillery group producing and selling an exclusive range of products, including its Thai partners best selling Thai beer, Beer Chang, throughout Asia."

Iuul will become chief executive for the new company and five other senior Carlsberg managers are expected to relocate to the new headquarters in Singapore to oversee the venture.

A spokesman for Carlsberg told just-drinks.com: "The venture will mean a lot to Carlsberg as we believe the whole Asian region is a potentially growth area for beer. And part of the deal is that Carlsberg Asia can market Beer Chang, which is a dominant and well-known brand outside of Thailand."

In connection with the establishment of Carlsberg Asia, Carlsberg will sell its 10% stake in the Thai breweries - Carlsberg Brewery (Thailand) and Beer Thai for $147m.