The Finnish drinks group Hartwall, which is subject to a takeover by Scottish & Newcastle, said that Russian sales had contributed to rising earnings. The company saw January-September profit before extraordinary items rising 14% year-on-year to €144m (US$143.4m). Sales jumped 24% to €763m.

However, the groups also warned that, "growth in the beer market in Russia shows signs of slackening in the fourth quarter.

"Despite that, (half-owned) Baltic Beverages Holding is geared for a market share increase as well as margin improvement through cost cuts," the company said in a statement.

The company also said net sales and operating profit before one-time items would continue to show good growth in 2002 versus a previous forecast of strong growth.

Hartwall's Russian subsidiary BBH, which it co-owns with Carlsberg, saw sales for the nine months contribute €503m to group's top line. Operating profit rose 27 percent and boosted the Finnish firm's EBIT by 134 million euros.

Hartwall said it expected the redemption offer of S&N to be completed by the end of the year.

In a separate statement the company announced that chief executive Jussi Lansio was resigning. A is to be named in the future.