Carlsberg CEO sees better 2012 Russia market -paper

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The head of the world’s fourth biggest brewer, Carlsberg, said that the outlook for the group’s key East European and Russian markets appeared brighter.

In November, Carlsberg reported a steeper-than-expected drop in third-quarter profits largely due to weakness in its Russian market and forecast a further decline in low single-digit percentages for the Russian market in 2012.

“We believe that things will be better in Eastern Europe and especially in the Russian market in 2012,” Chief Executive Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen told the daily paper Jyllands-Posten in a newspaper interview published on Tuesday.

“When I talk with Russian business people, they are positive about the outlook for 2012,” Rasmussen said, citing Russian expectations for a stabilisation of the oil price at a reasonably high level and for growth in Russian GDP.

“Their biggest concern is about how much Western Europe can negatively affect Russia,” Rasmussen said.

Carlsberg, whose beer labels include Carlsberg, Tuborg, and Kronenbourg, said in November that its Russian market declined by 7 percent in the third quarter and its market share fell to 37.8 percent from 39.3 percent.

In late October, Carlsberg announced that it was replacing the head of its Russian unit, Baltika Breweries, to address the decline in the Russian business, which was hit by a 200 percent increase in Russian excise tax in January 2010.

Rasmussen told Jyllands-Posten that Carlsberg had shed about 25 percent of its workforce in Russia in the past few years. “So one cannot blame us for sitting still,” he said.