The Adelaide-based brewer Coopers Brewery is to form a joint venture with American Beverage Distributors, the Australian distributors of the US beer brand, Budweiser, the flagship brand of the Anheuser-Busch brewing conglomerate.

A new company, trading as Premium Beverages and to be headquartered in Melbourne, is to be formed to market both the Coopers brand and Budweiser. Tim Cooper is to be the chairman of the new company.

Coopers boss Glenn Cooper said that Premium Beverages had been established to take advantage of the substantial growth opportunities available in the premium and imported beer market in Australia.

Premium and imported beers account for 7.9% of the total beer market in 2001 and achieved 16% growth. Imported beer is the fastest growing category in the Australian beer market showing approximately 27% growth in the past year.

"Given that Coopers products have become increasingly sought after by the rest of Australia, we decided it was appropriate to form an alliance that would allow us to accelerate the growth of our products nationally and internationally," said Mr Cooper.

Mr Bruce Siney said that American Beverage Distributors was delighted to be associated with a significant Australian brewing company that has been successful for more than 140 years.

"Our plans are to substantially lift the market profiles of both brands and to increase their distribution in all states and territories.  Budweiser is America's favourite beer and a brand which has also become increasingly popular internationally, especially amongst beer drinkers in their twenties and thirties."