India: AB InBev allowed to provisionally resume sales in Delhi

A tribunal in New Delhi has put on hold a 1.5-year sales ban for AB InBev products in the city imposed in July last year. AB InBev is now allowed to resume sales until final judgement is given on the matter.

The company was accused for allegedly evading local taxes by duplicating bar codes to lower excise duty payments. In 2016 the local police found bottles of beer with duplicated barcodes from SABMiller, a company which was acquired the same year by AB InBev (, 31.7.2019). After objections raised by AB InBev the initial three-year sales ban was later reduced to 18 months.

In December, a local court rejected AB InBev’s appeal against the ban due to formal reasons but acknowledged that the principle of natural justice had been violated which supported the view of AB InBev’s lawyers that the company was not given adequate notice before the sales ban was imposed. Consequently, the appeal was sent back to the city tribunal (, 19.12.2019).

On Tuesday, the tribunal issued a one-page order, saying without any further reasoning that the ban was being "stayed" as it continues to hear the company's appeal. The next tribunal appeal hearing is scheduled for Feb. 25.

AB InBev, whose beers include Budweiser and Hoegaarden, is the second biggest player in India's USD 7 billion beer market. In November, AB InBev announced to appoint Kartikeya Sharma as president for south Asia, succeeding Ben Verhaert who will become president for east Asia. Both report to Jan Craps, CEO of Budweiser APAC, AB InBev’s Asian business unit which was successfully listed in Hong Kong in September last year in a second attempt (, 29.9.2019) after the first attempt in July 2019 failed (, 13.7.2019).

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