Carlsberg and Heineken pour Russian beer

The companies announced the sale of the local business.
Against the backdrop of the Russian war against Ukraine, two of the three largest beer producers, Carlsberg Group and Heineken, announced their withdrawal from Russia and the sale of local assets. They account for about 40% of the market and 15 factories throughout the country. The enterprises of the companies will continue to operate while the search for new owners. The largest player, AB InBev Efes, where Turkey's Anadolu Efes owns a controlling stake, still remains and is unlikely to follow the example of competitors.

One of the largest beer producers in the world, the Danish Carlsberg Group and the Dutch Heineken, today announced their withdrawal from Russia and their intention to sell their assets there. The companies said they could not continue to own business in the country "in the current environment", citing the war in Ukraine.

The Carlsberg Group owns the Baltika brewing company, which operates breweries in Voronezh, Novosibirsk, Rostov-on-Don, Samara, St. Petersburg, Tula, Khabarovsk, and Yaroslavl. The enterprises employ 8.4 thousand employees. The portfolio includes more than 55 beer brands, including Baltika, Tuborg, Zatecky Gus, Holsten. In 2021, the Russian business brought Carlsberg Group €873.8 million in revenue and €91.6 million in operating profit.

Heineken has seven factories in Russia in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Khabarovsk and Sterlitamak. The staff is about 1.8 thousand people. The brand portfolio includes: Krusovice, Amstel, Okhota, Three Bears, Stepan Razin, etc. Heineken United Breweries LLC revenue in 2021 amounted to 36.92 billion rubles, net profit - 878.99 million rubles .

Baltika told Kommersant that the company continues operating and commercial activities in the current mode for the period of searching for a new owner and until the completion of the transaction. They added that 8.4 thousand employees in Russia will retain jobs and social guarantees. The Carlsberg Group clarified that proceeds from the Russian business will no longer be included in the group's financial results. From an accounting point of view, a business in the Russian Federation will be treated as an asset held for sale.

Heineken said that the company has just begun to look for a new owner, the process is completely handled by the global office. In order to minimize the risk of nationalization, Heineken notes that the company will maintain operations during the transition period. Under any circumstances, the salaries of employees will be paid until the end of 2022.

As follows from the data of VTB Capital, in 2020 Baltika occupied about 27% of the Russian beer market, Heineken accounted for about 13%. The largest player with a 30% share was AB InBev Efes, which operates 11 breweries in the country and produces beer under the brands BUD, Spaten, Corona Extra, Hoegaarden, Stary Melnik, Klinskoye, Beliy Medved and others.

AB InBev Efes is a joint venture between Belgian AB InBev and Turkey's Anadolu Efes, in which the latter owns a controlling stake. Earlier, AB InBev asked Anadolu Efes to suspend the license for the production and sale of the BUD brand in Russia and is awaiting a response. AB InBev Efes itself continues to work in Russia as usual, the company says. Kommersant's source on the market believes that the Turkish shareholder of AB InBev Efes is hardly interested in leaving the Russian market.

According to Kommersant's sources in the industry, Carlsberg Group and Heineken may not yet have certain contenders for assets in Russia.

Statements to leave the country can be made to reassure interested parties abroad, but as long as companies continue to monitor the development of the situation, as a result, deals may not reach, Kommersant's interlocutors argue.

One of Kommersant's sources believes that the business of companies in Russia can also be transferred to management with a buyback obligation.

One of the local players of the level of the Moscow Brewing Company (MPK; produces the brands Zhiguli Barnoe, Khamovniki, Trekhgornoye, produces under licenses Bavaria, Faxe, imports Budweiser Budvar, Krombacher, Clausthaler, etc.) etc.), adds the source "Kommersant". IPC founders Yevgeny Kashper and Alexander Lifshits sold Ivan Taranov Brewery (PIT) to Heineken in 2005 for $500 million. The IPC did not comment. Two more interlocutors of Kommersant believe that the brewing business in Russia could theoretically be of interest to large Chinese beer producers, especially if the assets are sold at a discount.