Baltika Breweries has taken a step closer to its planned merger in Russia.

The brewer, controlled by Carlsberg and Scottish & Newcastle's joint venture Baltic Beverages Holding, said today (4 July) that it had become the majority shareholder of the Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo breweries. In a share swap, BBH exchanged its stakes in the three brewers for newly-issued shares in Baltika.

"We are pleased that the legal merger of Baltika, Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo progresses according to the time schedule and plan we set earlier this year," said Baltika president Anton Artemiev. "The group is now working with full speed to integrate all operations, sales, distribution and administration. The merger confirms Baltika's position as the largest FMCG company in Russia, and one of the largest breweries in the world."

As per the merger plan, Baltika issued an additional 48.2m new shares in the spring. During July, the shareholders of Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo are being offered the opportunity to exchange their holdings in the three companies for shares in Baltika.

Despite initial protests from some of Baltika's minority shareholders, the transaction finally won approval in March, after the exchange ratios were improved. Instead of taking cash for its stakes, BBH agreed to exchange its holdings for shares in the enlarged Baltika.

The exchange, completed yesterday, has given Baltika 91.9% of the shares in Pikra, 92.76% in Vena and 87.19% in Yarpivo.

As the share offer is open for the shareholders of Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo until 31 July, BBH said that it was not yet able to say what its exact shareholding in Baltika will be at the end of the merger.

Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo are set to call for EGMs to approve the mergers.