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Carlsberg In The Dark Over Russian Business After Shock Seizure

By Reuters
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Carlsberg In The Dark Over Russian Business After Shock Seizure

Carlsberg was "shocked" by Russia's seizure of its business in the country last month and the brewer is no closer to knowing what might happen next, its CEO said.

Russia took control of the Danish group's eight breweries and 8,400 employees in the country last month, shortly after Carlsberg had agreed to sell the unit to an undisclosed buyer.

"We have known from the beginning, since announcing the intention to leave Russia in March of last year, that there was huge interest in the business from people inside Russia. But still, this is an unprecedented development," CEO Cees 't Hart said on a media call.

Last year, the group took a DKK 9.9 billion (€1.3 billion) write-down on its Russian Baltika unit. According to a Russian presidential decree last month, Carlsberg retains ownership of the unit but no longer has any control or influence over it.

"Technically, this is not a nationalisation, but how it will unfold is unclear for us at this point in time," Hart said. "This latest development will make it even more painful to leave Russia."

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'Limited Contact'

Carlsberg is not in contact with any of its employees in Russia but remains in limited contact with Russian authorities, Hart said.

Many multinational companies flocked to leave Russia after the West imposed unprecedented sanctions on Moscow following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, but the Kremlin has retaliated by seizing some assets.

Hart, who took the helm at Carlsberg in 2015, will be replaced by the CEO of services provider ISS Jacob Aarup Andersen on 1 September.

The brewer has reported a 11.2% increase in revenue in the first half of its financial year, however volumes were still down in its Western Europe (-2.1%) and Central & Eastern Europe (-1.9%) markets.

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