Heineken seeks green light for sale of Russian brewery

Dutch beer giant Heineken reported on Wednesday lower sales in the first quarter and said it had sought approval for the sale of its Russian business after criticism.

The world’s second-largest brewer apologised in March for creating “ambiguity” over its 2022 pledge to leave Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.

“We continue to make progress to transfer the ownership of our business in Russia and an application has been submitted for approval to the authorities in the Russian Federation in line with local regulatory requirements,” Heineken said in a statement.

“There is a limit to what we can say before this process is completed. If and when we have approval, we will share further details about the buyer and agreement.”

Heineken has faced social media calls for a boycott after a Dutch investigative website reported in February that the brewer was continuing to do business in Russia.

Globally, Heineken said beer sales were down three percent year-on-year, particularly due to a lack of demand in the “key markets” of Nigeria and Vietnam.

“Business performance in Europe and the Americas regions is encouraging,” CEO Dolf van den Brink said in a statement accompanying the results.

“Results in the Asia Pacific and Africa, Middle East and Eastern Europe regions were disappointing, hindered by temporary volatility in Vietnam and Nigeria, leading to demand softness,” the brewer said.

Sales rose to 7.6 billion euros ($8.3 billion) from nearly 7.0 billion euros for the first quarter of 2022, driven partly by price increases brought in to cover the rising cost of raw materials.

The brewer recorded a net profit for the first quarter of 403 million, down three percent year-on-year from 417 million euros.

Founded in the 19th century in Amsterdam, Heineken sells more than 300 brands including Strongbow and Amstel. The group is the world’s the second-largest brewer after Belgian-Brazilian AB InBev.

It employs more than 85,000 people around the world.

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© Agence France-Presse

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