Interbrew, the Belgian beer giant, has entered into exclusive negotiations with Thailand's leading brewer Boonrawd Brewery, to create a joint venture in the country. It is expected that this joint venture be finalised and set up in the spring of this year.

Although Interbrew, through its Beck's subsidiary, is already present on the Thai market with the Kloster brand, Boonrawd Brewery owns the most recognized brands in the Thai beer market: Singha and Leo.

 "We've had excellent relations with the Bhirom Bahkdi family, owner of Boonrawd Brewery, for many years." said Patrice J. Thys, executive vice president, legal and corporate affairs and also responsible for the China operations of Interbrew.

 "The Asian beer market has reached a stage where partnerships will increasingly happen.  With our 'World's Local Brewer' philosophy, we can provide marketing, sales, technical and government affairs expertise to our partners. That makes us the natural potential partner for many strong brewers in this part of the world".

"Boonrawd Brewery is the pioneer of Thai beer and proves to be the best potential partner for this region, as we are ready to provide strong platform and strong brands to develop the regional beer market for the mutual benefit of both sides." Santi Bhirom Bhakdi, CEO of Boonrawd Brewery said.

Per capita consumption in the Thai beer market in 2000 was 19 litres. The market has grown 13% per annum since 1995, despite economic difficulties during the 1997-1998 crisis.