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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Baltika Bolsters Carlsberg, Hartwell

Brisk Baltika sales have boosted the bottom line for two of Europe's largest brewers, Denmark's Carlsberg and Finland's Hartwall.

Carlsberg Breweries said Thursday that its first-half operating profit rose 34 percent on booming sales and profits in Russia and improved earnings in its mature West European markets.

Carlsberg A/S operating profit rose to 1.8 billion crowns ($236 million) in the January-June period, in line with an average forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts.

Carlsberg A/S owns 60 percent of Carlsberg Breweries. Russia is Carlsberg Breweries' third-biggest market and, in a 50-50 percent joint venture with Scottish & Newcastle, Carlsberg Breweries owns the country's biggest brewery group, Baltic Beverages Holding.

BBH in turn owns 75 percent of Baltika, Russia's No. 1 brewer whose revenues were up 51.2 percent year on year for the first six months of 2002, analysts said.

In Russia, beer sales grew by 16 percent, and BBH's market share rose 5.6 percentage points to 33.3 percent.

Carlsberg expects the Russian beer market to grow by 10 percent to 15 percent this year and 10 percent in 2003.

Meanwhile, Finnish beverages group Hartwall, which is being taken over by Scottish & Newcastle, reported Thursday rising earnings amid brisk Baltika sales and said it expected strong profit growth to continue.

Hartwall reported first-half profit before extraordinary items rising 23 percent year on year to 79.3 million euros ($76.53 million). Net sales jumped by one-third to 484 million euros.

Both sales and earnings were underpinned by Baltika's strong performance.

Hartwall said its share of BBH's net sales in the first half doubled year on year to 321 million euros, with BBH's sales comprising 66 percent of the Hartwall group total.

Hartwall was even more reliant on BBH for its profit. It said its share of BBH's operating profit surged 44 percent year on year to 77.8 million euros, with the unit's profit representing 88 percent of the group total.