UPDATE 1-Carlsberg in talks to up stake in Chinese brewer

Mon Feb 25, 2013 7:11am EST

* Carlsberg plans to raise stake in Chongqing Brewery

* Says shares of Chongqing suspended

* Carlsberg shares fall 0.6 percent

COPENHAGEN, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Carlsberg is in talks to increase its stake in Chongqing Brewery Co, its joint-venture partner in China, the Danish brewer said on Monday.

The company, which inherited a stake in Chongqing Brewery through its takeover of Britain's Scottish and Newcastle, raised it in 2010 to make it the biggest shareholder in the Chinese company with 29.7 percent.

Asia has become the main battle ground for the world's biggest brewers. The region accounted for 18 percent of Carlsberg's total sales volume in 2011 and 12 percent of its operating profit.

Carlsberg, like other beer companies, has been relying on high-growth emerging markets to compensate for weak sales in Europe. But last week the Danish brewer reported that sales growth had stalled in key market Russia.

Last year, Carlsberg said it aimed to increase its stake in Chongqing Brewery to 100 percent as the company tries to offset Europe's weakness, much like bigger rivals AB Inbev, SABMiller and Heineken.

"It is positive that there is action behind the words that they wish to grow in the Asian markets," said Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard.

"It is a really attractive brewery in an attractive area of China," Imsgard said.

Carlsberg said shares in Chongqing Brewery had been suspended and that it would make no further comment.

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