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Carlsberg 2017 profits hit by troubled Russian market

[COPENHAGEN] Danish brewer Carlsberg reported 2017 profit well below analysts' expectations, hit by a fall in sales and a large writedown in its key Russian market.

Carlsberg, the world's third-largest brewer, said beer volumes grew in all markets last year except Russia, where volumes declined by 14 per cent and its market share fell to 31.9 per cent from 34.6 per cent over the year.

Russia is the main market in Carlsberg's Eastern Europe region and provides around a fifth of the brewer's sales.

Net profit for the year - hit by a 4.8 billion crown (S$1.05 billion) impairment of the Baltika brand in Russia - dropped to 1.26 billion Danish crowns (S$276.72 million), down from 4.49 billion a year earlier, and falling short of the 4.86 billion crowns expected by analysts.

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A law in Russia limiting the size of a plastic beer bottle to no more than 1.5 litres as part of efforts to curb alcohol abuse dented beer sales in the country last year.

"Our Russian volumes and market share were severely impacted by the PET downsizing," Carlsberg said in a statement.

Russia has long been a problematic market for brewers due to sales and advertising restrictions and tax hikes designed to curb drinking.

Carlsberg has struggled in Russia since it took control of the country's largest beer brand Baltika in 2008 due to tighter alcohol regulations and a weak economy.

The company said it expected operating profit to grow by a percentage in the mid-single-digits this year while recommending an increase in dividend payout for 2017 by 60 per cent to 16 crowns per share.


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