SABMiller brewing more beer in Ukraine as finances improve

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Miller Brands Ukraine, a large domestic beer producer and subsidiary of international brewing giant SABMiller, sharply cut its losses in Ukraine last year while boosting output by 51.4 percent to 16.4 million deciliters of beer.

Citing figures provided by the National Securities and Stock Market Commission, Interfax-Ukraine reported that the Donetsk-based brewer’s net loss fell by 35.7 percent in 2011 to Hr 120.9 million ($15 million).

The news comes ahead of a planned transfer of SABMiller’s Ukrainian and Russian assets to Turkish beer maker Anadolu Efes in exchange for a 24 percent stake in the latter.

The strategic alliance, to be completed in the near future, will focus on synergies in the East European, Turkish, and Central Asian markets.

SABMiller jumped into Ukraine’s highly competitive beer market a few years ago, following in the footsteps of other multinational beer groups who had invested into the nation’s top Soviet-built breweries.

In 2008, it acquired a nearly 100 percent stake in the Donetsk-based brewing business, earlier known as Sarmat and owned by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov.

The company sells beer under the Sarmat, Zhygulivske, Zolotaya Bochka, Velkopopovicky Kozel and Amsterdam Mariner brands.

SABMiller accounts for less than 5 percent of Ukraine’s $4 billion beer market, which is dominated by multinational brewing companies, such as Carlsberg and SUNInBev.