Russian investor takes stake in Sun Interbrew

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The Alpha Group, a private Russian financial company, has confirmed
that it is has bought a 10.4 per cent of the voting shares in
Russia's number two brewer, Sun Interbrew
for an undisclosed sum. The move gives the investor its first
serious stake in the Russian beer industry.

According to a Reuters report the shares were bought up by the group's Alfa Ecko division on the open market in the form of global depository receipts. A company spokesman confirmed the validity of the report and added that as the transaction was conducted on the stock markets Sun Interbrew had had no part in the actual deal. Sun Interbrew shares are quoted on the Berlin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg stock exchanges and the company is registered in Jersey.

The acquisition is said to have made Alpha the third largest holder of voting shares in the Sun Interbrew, a move that gives it a strong voice in the company.

A company statement said that the company was hoping its stake in the voting share would give it some form of representation on the board of executives. The company also said that the move gives it a strong foothold in the rapidly growing Russian beer market.

Sun Interbrew is the Russian-Ukrainian division of Belgian beer giant Interbrew and the Indian-based Sun Group. The company has nine breweries located throughout Russia and three in the Ukraine.

At the beginning of this month Sun Interbrew announced that it was selling 99 per cent of its stake in the OJSC Bavaria brewery. The company sold the stake on to Bavaria's management for an undisclosed sum, stating that the brewer did not fit into any of its core brands.

For the year 2003 the company reported a net income of €21.3 million, a jump of €24.9 million, following a small loss in 2002. Likewise, the company reported of EBITDA of €100.8 million, 34.7 per cent up on the previous year. The enhanced results were bought about through a concentrated marketing campaign combined with a programme to optimize the productivity of its operations.

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