India's largest brewing group, United Breweries, is thought to be close to completing the acquisition of Rajasthan Breweries for about Rup400 million (US$8.2m).

Unlisted Rajasthan Breweries, at one time a local brewing partner of the US beer brand, Stroh, already brews for UB under contract. UB did not comment officially but inside sources suggested that the deal would be completed within the next few weeks.

The news follows last week's announcement that UB is to buy a brewery from the GMR group in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh for Rup570 million. The further addition of Rajasthan Breweries will allow UB to extend its coverage in the Delhi and Rajasthan markets. The company already has around a 40% share of the 72-million case Indian beer market.

Although India is a huge market, per capita beer consumption is still only 0.5 litres in comparison with 18 in China. The growth potential has prompted a number of foreign beer groups to invest in the Indian market, such as South African Breweries, which has bought four breweries in India during the past two years, and most recently Scottish & Newcastle which last month acquired a 26% stake in UB's beer business.