Foster's first foreigner to brew in India

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MELBOURNE -- Foster's Brewing Group is moving into India's heavily protected beer market with a $15m commitment to build a small brewery in Bombay in partnership with Kothari Industrial Corp. Foster's will hold 51% of the venture, Kothari 25% and Indian investors the remainder.

The deal makes Foster's the first foreign brewer to gain a foothold to the expanding Indian market which, although still small, is growing at about 15% a year through a swelling middle-class said to be turning away from spirits, the traditional Indian drink.

Brewing analysts say that despite legal and regulatory problems, the Indian market is less difficult to break into than the Chinese market where Foster's has invested about $100m in three brewing joint ventures and is still showing a loss. The company is also about to tie up a joint venture in Vietnam.

Rival Australasian brewer, Lion Nathan Ltd, says it has examined the Indian market but prefers to focus on its $230m investment in China. "India will still be there in a few years time," says a spokesman.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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