MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Baltika (RTS: PKBA), Russia's leading brewery, has increased its stakes in the charter capital of three smaller beer makers in a merger effort, the company's press office said Tuesday.
Baltika, which owns the popular Baltika and Arsenalnoye brands, with market shares of 10.9% and 5.4%, respectively, has made major increases in all three breweries: from 0.17% to 92.76% in St. Petersburg-based Vena, from 21.59% to 91.9% in Krasnoyarsk's Pikra and from 0.03% to 87.19% in Yarpivo in Yaroslavl.
Vena, Pikra and Yarpivo are part of Baltic Beverages Holding AB (BBH), Baltika's major shareholder since 1993.
Baltika, which controls 24% of the Russian beer market, increased its stakes in the smaller breweries in a share-swap deal, which allowed BBH to swap its holdings in Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo for additional stock of Russia's leading beer maker.
"We are glad that the legal merger of Baltika, Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo is proceeding in compliance with the schedule and the plan that we drafted earlier this year," Baltika president Anton Artemyev said.
Artemyev also said the group of companies was currently working on the integration of their production, sales, distribution and administrative components.
"The merger confirms Baltika's position as Russia's largest consumer goods producer and one of the world's biggest brewery companies," Artemyev said.
Under the merger plan, Baltika, which sold 22.4 million hectoliters of beer in 2005, issued an additional 48.2 million shares in the spring of 2006 to allow shareholders in Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo to swap their holdings for them in July.
Established in St. Petersburg in 1990, Baltika has five breweries in St. Petersburg, Rostov-on-Don, Tula, Samara and Khabarovsk, with total capacity of 24 million hectoliters a year. Baltika produces Foster's and Carlsberg under license in Russia, and sells its products in Russia and 38 other countries.
Baltika's major shareholder, Baltic Beverages Holding AB, holds a 75.4% stake in the company.