The owners of Baltic Beverages Holding are set to give its breweries in Eastern Europe greater control over their operations.

Carlsberg and Scottish & Newcastle, co-owners of BBH, have decided to give the venture's breweries more independence from the holding company. BBH, formed in 1991, owns 18 breweries in six countries, including Russia and the Ukraine.

A spokesman for Carlsberg told just-drinks that the decision was "a natural development" for the business.

"Today, the breweries are grown-up breweries. They have gathered so much market knowledge about producing beer, sales and marketing and so on," the spokesman said today (4 August).

"All in all, it's further empowerment - the breweries will get more power to decide what to do. BBH will have a strategic role, not operational."

BBH has spent the last year consolidating its assets in Russia through the merger of its Baltika brewery with three others, Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo. The spokesman said that BBH would retain its stake in Baltika and its breweries across Ukraine, the Baltic states and Kazakhstan.

Earlier this week, BBH president Christian Ramm-Schmidt retired after nine years in the job. The brewer also posted a 27% leap in EBITDA to EUR273m (US$350m) in the six months to the end of June. Net sales rose in the period by 18% to EUR961m.

BBH insisted it had made "very good progress" during the first half of the year despite losing market share in Russia and the Ukraine.