updated 2/22/2007 5:58:52 PM ET 2007-02-22T22:58:52

Anheuser-Busch plans a joint venture with Crown Beers India Ltd. in a move that will give America’s largest brewer entry into the beer market in India, the companies said Thursday.

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Financial terms were not disclosed. The agreement calls for Anheuser-Busch to brew, market and distribute Budweiser and other beers in India. Each company will have a 50-percent ownership in the joint venture.

Shares of Anheuser-Busch declined 28 cents to close at $50.39 on the New York Stock Exchange.

“International expansion is a key part of Anheuser-Busch’s growth strategy, and while India is a small beer market today, it is growing rapidly and has tremendous long-term potential,” said August Busch IV, president and chief executive officer of the St. Louis-based company.

The joint venture will operate under the name Crown Beers India Ltd., and will include a new brewery in the southern India city Hyderabad. The brewery is expected to be completed by March. Bottled Budweiser will be available in May.

Crown Beers India Ltd. will initially employ about 150 people.

“The joint venture combines Crown’s local business experience with Anheuser-Busch’s global marketing and brewing expertise to reach the consumer who appreciates premium beer,” said K.V.D. Prasad Rao, joint managing director for Crown Beers.

Anheuser-Busch has more than 48 percent of the U.S. beer market but has been expanding internationally. The company has 50-percent ownership in Grupo Modelo, Mexico’s leading beer-maker, and a 27-percent share in the China brewer Tsingtao.

In India, Anheuser-Busch cites favorable demographics: An economy growing at a rate of 9 percent annually, a growing middle class, and a population with 60 percent of people under the age of 30.

The Crown Group operates businesses in India’s agriculture industry through seed production and export businesses. The group also has businesses associated with industrial exports and real estate.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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