Carlsberg expects $1.4 bln Russia writedown and lowers profit guidance

Bottles of Carlsberg beer are seen in fridge in a bar in St. Petersburg
Bottles of Carlsberg beer are seen in fridge in a bar in St. Petersburg June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

COPENHAGEN, April 21 (Reuters) - Carlsberg (CARLb.CO), the Western brewer most exposed to the Russian market, expects its decision to sell its business there to result in a writedown of about 9.5 billion Danish crowns ($1.39 billion), it said on Thursday.

The company, which has eight breweries and 8,400 employees in Russia, said late last month that it would sell its business in the country, joining an exodus of Western companies since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. read more

The writedown did not take into account any external offers for the business and was subject to a "very high degree of volatility and uncertainty", Carlsberg said, adding that the sale could take up to 12 months.

In addition, Carlsberg reported a currency loss adjustment to its Russian business worth 4 billion crowns triggered by a recent depreciation of the Russian rouble.

Dutch rival Heineken (HEIN.AS) has also said it will exit Russia and last month said it expected to book related charges of about 400 million euros ($437 million). read more

Carlsberg had non-current assets in Russia worth 19.2 billion Danish crowns by the end of 2021, its annual report said.

"The writedown isn't quite as grim as one might have feared," Sydbank analyst Per Fogh told Reuters.

"This is what they consider to be fair value of the asset now, but the question still remains what a potential buyer would pay for it."

Carlsberg last year generated 10% of its revenue and 6% of its operating profit in Russia, where it took full control of the Baltika group of breweries in 2008.

Since then, however, it has faced sluggish sales in a sanctions-hit economy while facing Russian regulations aimed at curbing alcohol abuse.

Carlsberg lowered its operating profit growth forecast for this year to between minus 5% and plus 2%, compared with previous guidance of 0% and 7%.

Shares in Carlsberg, which have shed nearly a quarter of their value since the start of the year, fell slightly on the news but were up 1% by 1026 GMT.

The brewer said it also expected 300 million crowns of Ukraine impairment charges along with goodwill writedowns of 700 million crowns for the Central and Eastern Europe region, which includes Ukraine.

($1 = 6.8196 Danish crowns)

Additional reporting by Stine Jacobsen Editing by Jason Neely, Elaine Hardcastle

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Based in Copenhagen, Jacob oversees reporting from Denmark, Iceland, Greenland and the Faroe Islands. Specializes in security and geopolitics in the Arctic and Baltic Sea regions, as well as large corporates such as brewer Carlsberg and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk. His most impactful reporting on Arctic issues include a report on how NATO allies are slowly waking up to Russian supremacy in the region, uncovering how Greenland represents a security black hole for Denmark and its allies, and how an abundance of critical minerals has proven a curse for Greenland. Before moving to Copenhagen in 2016, Jacob spent seven years in Moscow covering Russia's oil and gas industry for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal, followed by four years in Singapore covering energy markets for WSJ and Reuters. As a Russian speaker, he has been involved in covering the war in Ukraine. He publishes a newsletter each weekday focused on the most important regional and global news. Contact Jacob via email if you are interested in receiving the newsletter.