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Former Russian subsidiary demands US$950m from Carlsberg Group

The former Russian arm of Carlsberg Group, Baltika Brewery, is demanding RUB84.1 billion (US$950 million) for its losses from the Danish brewer. Eugene Gerden reports.

So far, Baltika has already appealed to the Arbitration Court of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region with a request to recover damages of 84.1 billion rubles from the Carlsberg Group, as a result of dividend payments and a ban on the use of Carlsberg brands.

It is expected the first court hearings may take place this week.

At present, Baltika operates eight factories in Russia, where more than 50 brands are produced, including Baltika, Don, Arsenalnoye, Zatecky Gus, etc. It is considered the second beer producer in Russia after AB InBev Efes, with such flagship brands as Velkopopovicky Kozel, Stary Melnik iz barrel, and Klinskoe.

Currently Baltika remains under the management of the Russian Federal Property Management Agency, which means that all of its operations are controlled by the Russian government.


The conflict between Carlsberg and Baltika began in the middle of July 2023, after the Danish brewer said it was selling its Russian arm in June, following the war in Ukraine when there was a mass exodus of Western companies from the state.

President Vladimir Putin then transferred Carlsberg’s share in Baltika (98,56%) to state management in an attempt to prevent sale of the Russian business, and to form a so-called “compensation fund” in response to expropriation of Russian assets abroad.

Soon after the decision, Carlsberg announced the termination of licenses for international and regional brands with Baltika. In response, Baltika filed claims to invalidate such a decision for brands including Seth & Riley’s Garage, Holsten, Kronenbourg, Tuborg, Carlsberg and Grimbergen.

Moreover, the Russian billionaire Teymuraz Bolloev, who was appointed as a President of Baltika in a letter to the Federal Property Management Agency, asked to nationalise Baltika, and accused Carlsberg of “unfriendly and illegal actions”.

According to Russian lawyers, the losses of Baltika (on which the company cites in its latest lawsuit) could have arisen as a result of foreign founders’ approval of transactions that resulted in unfavourable consequences for Baltika, which could include the payment of dividends.

At the same, the lawsuit from Baltika to Carlsberg could be also related to brands’ licensing issues, particularly the current actual ban for the Russian company to produce drinks under the Carlsberg brands and the actual use of these brands.

Complex strategy

According to experts, the current pressure on foreign owners of Russian companies may also be part of a complex strategy developed by the Russian state, which has serious fears about forthcoming confiscation of Russian assets abroad.

In its report for 2023, Carlsberg Group estimated the value of net assets from discontinued operations in Russia at DKK 7.5 billion. In a trading update last November, CEO of  Carlsberg Jacob Aarup-Andersen said the brewer wouldn’t enter into negotiations with the Russian state regarding its former business in the country.

He said: “There is no way around the fact that they (the Russian government) have stolen our business in Russia, and we are not going to help them make that look legitimate.”

He said there had only been limited interaction with both Baltic’s management and Russian authorities since July, and as a result had taken a DKK9.9bn (£1.61bn) hit.

He continued: “We’re not going to enter into a transaction with the Russian government that somehow justifies them taking over our business illegally.”

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