COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Danish brewer Carlsberg (CARLb.CO) has got the rights to the German brand Holsten in its important Russian market which will strengthen its range of more expensive beers, the company said on Wednesday.
Carlsberg owns Holsten in Germany, but the brand had been produced in Russia by rival SABMiller SAB.L until the British brewer recently joined forces with Turkish group Anadolu Efes (AEFES.IS) in Russia and Ukraine.
The tie-up between SABMiller and Anadolu Efes triggered a clause in a contract that forced SABMiller to hand Carlsberg the Russian rights to Holsten.
Until now Carlsberg has not had a German brand in Russia.
"It is a positive move as we try to extend the portfolio where it makes sense," Carlsberg's spokesman Ben Morton told Reuters. "There's demand from consumers for German beers in Russia, and Holsten satisfies that kind of demand."
Carlsberg plans to start producing Holsten at its breweries in St. Petersburg and Tula in the beginning of June.
Morton said Holsten would help Carlsberg increase its market share. "Spare capacity in this case isn't the main reason for this brand production," Morton said.
Holsten is the fourth largest brand in the Russian superpremium segment, which grew by 3.2 percent in 2011 and accounted for around 8 percent of the total Russian beer market in volume.
"Holsten is a brand in the superpremium segment, so it is highly profitable for us," Morton said. "We don't comment on the exact impact on margins."
Beers in the superpremium segment are sold at prices more than 50 percent above beers in the mainstream segment.
In 2011, Holsten had 25 percent of the total 'German' segment in the Russian beer market and 50 percent of the superpremium German segment in Russia, Morton said.
"Therefore, Holsten will be an excellent addition to our portfolio and will make it more balanced," he said.
The Russian beer market earns the Copenhagen-based Carlsberg group nearly half its profit.