INDIA: Carlsberg coy on "venture" talks

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Carlsberg has refused to be drawn on reports linking the brewer and its partner in Nepal, the Khetan Group, to the formation of a venture in India.

The Danish brewer admitted it was looking to enter India's fast-growing beer market but said "no final conclusions" had been reached on its strategy on the sub-continent.

Beer consumption in India is growing at 7% a year but per capita consumption remains low. The market's potential for growth, combined with a burgeoning middle class, has attracted the eyes of multinational brewers.

In recent months, Carlsberg has regularly been linked with a move into the country. Reports in India today (7 August) said the brewer was mulling whether to team up with the Khetan Group and set up a greenfield project in the country.

Nevertheless, a Carlsberg spokesman in Copenhagen was coy on the matter. He told just-drinks: "We still consider India a potential market for Carlsberg. We consider it very interesting due to its significant growth potential. We are presently in the process of evaluating the market, on if and how to enter it but no final conclusions have been made."

Carlsberg and the Khetan family jointly own the Gorkha Brewery in Nepal. However, the spokesman refused to comment on any talks with the Khetan Group on expansion into India.

He said: "We have a lot of partners in Asia and we quite often talk to them on a number of issues. But I'm not going to go into details because many things can change."

United Breweries and SABMiller dominate India's beer market but in recent months Asia Pacific Breweries has gained a foothold there with the acquisition of a local brewer and plans to set up another from scratch.

Brewing giants Anheuser-Busch and InBev have also been linked to a foray into India.

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