Delhi bans Anheuser-Busch InBev beers
India has banned the world’s largest brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, from selling its products in the key New Delhi market for three years for allegedly evading local taxes, government orders seen by Reuters showed.
AB InBev is the second biggest player in India’s $7 billion beer market, accounting for a 17.5 percent market share, according to research firm IWSR Drinks Market Analysis. Its popular brands include Budweiser, Hoegaarden and Stella Artois.
The city government orders from earlier this month followed a three-year investigation which found that beer maker SABMiller — acquired by AB InBev in 2016 for around $100 billion — used duplicate barcodes on its beer bottles supplied to city retailers that year, allowing it to pay lower levies.
AB InBev said in a statement it denied the Delhi government’s allegations and would appeal against the order.
“The barcodes were being duplicated by ... SABMiller and supplied to the retail outlets to evade payment of excise duty,” said a 19-page order, dated July 16, which detailed the findings.
In a second order last week, the Delhi city authority said that AB InBev should be put on a “blacklist” for three years. It also called for the sealing of two of AB InBev’s warehouses in the capital city, an action that a senior Delhi government official told Reuters on Tuesday had already been completed.
“This means the company is debarred from the Delhi market for all purposes, unless they appeal against this,” said the official, adding that no fresh stock of AB InBev beer brands can be sold at liquor shops or restaurants. Neither of the orders had been previously reported.
“Integrity and ethics are part of our core values ... (We) look forward to presenting our views in full cooperation with the excise appellate process,” a company spokesman said.