SABMiller is launching one of its premium beer brands in India.

The global brewer confirmed today (6 October) that it has taken delivery of Peroni Nastro Azzuro in Mumbai. The Italian beer will be launched in the city this month.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks, SABMiller's Africa and Asia managing director, André Parker, said that the city was chosen because of its trend-setting demeanour. "Mumbai is the home of Bollywood," Parker said. "There's room in the Mumbai market for such an offering."

Parker said that SABMiller will see how the brand performs in the Mumbai market before taking it elsewhere in the country. "If it works there, we'll take it a step at a time in India," he said.

SABMiller will start selling the imported beer in the coming weeks, and will consider manufacturing Peroni locally should the brand prove a success. Peroni will be priced at around double the price of mainstream beers in India, Parker added.

When asked if the company would consider launching one of its international brands in the other major Asian market of China, Parker pointed to the company's current success in the country. "If Snow wasn't doing as well as it was," he said, "then we would already have done so." Snow is the flagship brand of SABMiller's joint venture in the country with China Resources Enterprise, CR Snow Breweries.

SABMiller also claimed the top spot in China today, releasing figures showing that it has overtaken Tsingtao - of which Anheuser-Busch holds a 27% stake - in the race for market share. In the first six months of 2006, SABMiller said, CR Snow Breweries had a market share of 14.9%, beating Tsingtao, which held 13.9%.

Citing figures from the National Statistical Bureau, the brewer also said that Beijing Yanjing, the only major Chinese brewer who has refused to join forces with any of the major global brewers, holds third spot with 10.2% market share.