Weaker Sales Force Closure Of Brewery

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the beer company formed last month in a $52 billion takeover, will shut down a brewery for an indefinite period to cut costs as local growth weakens.

Production at the plant in the town of Pushkin, near St. Petersburg, will stop as of Dec. 15, Ilya Lysenko, spokesman for the company's Russian unit, said Friday.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, maker of beers from Stella Artois to Budweiser, will raise production at some of its nine other Russian plants to compensate, he said.

"As soon as the economic situation becomes favorable, we'll consider resuming production" in Pushkin, Lysenko said. "We are optimizing production activity and cost efficiency."

InBev, which purchased Anheuser-Busch last month, reported weakening sales in Russia in October as cold weather and turmoil in financial markets affected demand in one of the company's fastest-growing markets. Western European beermakers have acquired Russian brewers in recent years to spur growth as domestic markets stagnated or shrank.

A "slight contraction" in first-half profit margins continued in the third quarter, and the cost of sales per hectoliter will be higher than expected after commodity prices rose, InBev said Oct. 3. Anheuser-Busch InBev will offer jobs at other Russian plants to some of the 250 workers at the Pushkin site, according to a statement from the local unit.