6 Nov 2009 18:16

UzCarlsberg boosts beer output 56% in 9M

TASHKENT. Nov 6 (Interfax) - LLC Carlsberg Uzbekistan (UzCarlsberg) boosted output 56% year-on-year in January-September to 60.3 million liters of beer, the company's general director, Yevgeny Shevchenko, told reporters.

Sales revenue grew 50% to 101.7 billion sum. The company paid more than 30 billion sum in taxes and other dues, including approximately 9 billion sum in excise and 17 billion sum in VAT.

Beer output could rise tentatively 40% to 74 million liters this year as a whole, Shevchenko said.

UzCarlsberg plans to expand capacity next year, "nor radically, but for the future," he said. We'll be investing about EUR 1.5 million in a bid to increase the efficiency of available equipment," he said.

The company had to put all major investment projects on hold due to the crisis, he said. The beer market shrank 25% in nine major Uzbek cities, "the biggest [drop] in the CIS beer markets."

Even so, this year promises to be successful for UzCarlsberg, Svehchenko said. "We are expecting to show a profit, and this could be much higher than originally planned," he said.

However Uzbekistan's beer market is likely to go on contracting in 2010, he said.

UzCarlsberg has been notified that a further hike of 25% in beer excise is being discussed. "At any rate we know this has been factored into the 2010 draft budget," Shevchenko said. Excise on beer was hiked on January 1, 2009, which for UzCarlsberg translated into "a 50%-increase in the excise tax burden per liter," he said.

Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH) and Uzbekistan's Sarbast Plus set up the Sarbast Plus joint venture in 2006. The joint venture opened a $54.9-million brewery in Tashkent with capacity to produce 100 million liters of beer per year in July 2007.

The joint venture was re-named UzCarlsberg in October 2008 after Carlsberg took over all BBH's assets.

Carlsberg bought the Uzbek company out of the brewery in June 2009 and consolidated 100% of its equity.

The brewery currently produces seven beers - four premium-segment Sarbast brands, Tuborg Green and two Baltika beers under license.

Official statistics put overall beer output in Uzbekistan at 119.43 million liters in 2008, up 13.9% from 2007.