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India. International Breweries scouting for brewery acquisition

Canadian brewer International Breweries is on the look out for brewery acquisitions in India and is rolling out its second brand Australian Draught in India.

The around $40-million parent firm makes brands such as Australian Max and Canadian Blonde in Toronto.

The company is keen on investing in the Indian market. "We are looking at acquiring a brewery in south India in six months. We are in preliminary talks at the moment," Peter S Harvey, executive director of International Breweries, said.

It entered the Indian market by tying up with Mohan Meakin in 2001. However, restrictions in the UP market prompted it to partner Bangalore-based Khodays Breweries to manufacture its brands since 2009.

"We know we are not a household name in India yet," Harvery, said with reference to competition from Indian and multinational companies.

Vijay Mallya-promoted United Breweries holds the dominant share of the Indian beer market. Companies such as SAB Miller, Carlsberg and Anheuser-Busch InBev have been betting on the Indian market as well. Molson Coors too acquired a controlling stake in Cobra India to set up a joint venture for the Indian market this year.

"The Indian market is the fastest growing in the world. We have believed in it in the past 10 years," Harvey said. "At times it is challenging, as it is hard to establish a foothold because we are not a global giant, but we see it becoming one of the biggest in the world."

He said that the company's focus is now on marketing its brands Australian Max and upcoming mild beer Australian Draught. Strong beer Australian Max retailed at Rs 65 for a 650 ml bottle and at Rs 35 for 330 ml will expand reach in Karnataka as well as Pondicherry and Goa next. States such as Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala will be on the road map for the next 18-20 months.

Australian Max, manufactured at Koday Breweries' Bangalore plant, picked up the title of World's Best strong beer and Asia's best strong lager at the World Beer awards this year.

Strong beer (with alcohol content above 5%) accounts for nearly 80% of beer consumption in India.

13 Dec. 2011

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