Anjali Prayag
K. Giriprakash

Bangalore, Nov. 11

BEER giant SABMiller is learnt to be eyeing brands of North India-based Mohan Meakin even as it readies a war chest of around Rs 560 crore for acquisitions and expanding its existing capacity.

The SABMiller India Managing Director, Mr Richard Rushton, said the company was looking at various brands and even breweries for expanding its market share in the country. Though he did not specifically mention Mohan Meakin as one of the acquisition targets, he said the company was open to various opportunities in the market.

"We cannot rule out potential investment opportunities," Mr Rushton told Business Line. Sources close to the company, however, said that Mohan Meakin was one of the targets for acquisition by SABMiller as such an acquisition will help it to become the market leader in the beer segment.

While SABMiller has around 37 per cent market share in the beer segment, Mohan Meakin has around eight per cent.

UB has around 40 per cent share. Mr Rushton said his company is engaged in various activities to modernise its manufacturing assets and expand its capacity. "We are actively engaged in the process of modernisation of our manufacturing assets and have substantially increased our marketing investments. But we cannot rule out activity to further our market share here," Mr Rushton said indicating that the company would look at investment opportunities as and when they happen.

On Thursday, SABMiller plc, in its interim results said that trading in India had shown an improvement with volumes up 12 per cent on a pro forma basis during the six months ending September 2005.

Mr Rushton said that pushing this growth were SABMiller's quartet comprising brands Haywards 5000, Royal Challenge Premium Lager, Castle Lager and Knockout.

"We have substantially increased our marketing investments, both in below-the-line and above-the-line activities," he said. He also said that the company was engaged in a process of modernising its manufacturing assets.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 12, 2005)
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