The founder of Cobra Beer is seeking finance to expand the beer brand in India, five months after Molson Coors stepped in to rescue the company's UK division from collapse. 

Cobra is hoping to secure around GBP4.5m (US$7.3m) to complete the purchase of a brewery that the company has been operating in north-east India since 2008, Lord Bilimoria confirmed to just-drinks today (3 November).

Investment would also be used to expand the brand in the country's emerging beer market.

Cobra's India business has retained independence from the UK arm, which was saved from financial collapse by Molson Coors in a pre-pack administration deal at the beginning of June this year.

Per capita beer consumption in India is around one litre annually, compared to rates of more than 100 litres in several established western markets.

Bilimoria said: "The beer market is still very tiny in absolute terms. But, 30 years ago when China began its economic reforms, per capita beer consumption was at 0.5 litres. Today, it is 30 litres. That's exactly what is going to happen in India."

India's beer market is currently dominated by domestic firm UB Group, which owns the Kingfisher brand, and SABMiller. Together, these two make up around 80% of market volume.

Aside from its brewery in the north, Cobra operates under eight contract brewing agreements in the country, allowing it to be present in retail outlets and high-end hotels in some of the key states, such as Rajasthan.

In the UK last month, Molson Coors and Lord Bilimoria officially launched the Cobra Beer Partnership, which is chaired by Lord Bilimoria and run by a dedicated executive team, headed by Adrian Davey, who moved from his role as managing director for Coors' UK off-trade business.

Molson has backed the venture with an initial GBP10m marketing spend, as it looks to build on the brand's strong distribution in the Indian restaurant trade and expand it in both the off-trade and in pubs.

The brand will continue to be targeted at ethnic food lovers. Lord Bilimoria said he is "very confident" that the venture will make the brand profitable for the first time.