The German brewer Holsten, which is subject to a takeover bid from Danish brewer Carlsberg, sad yesterday that it saw its sales in 2003 fall 10% compared to a year before, leading net profits to drop to €3.3m (US$4.0m) from €6.2m in 2002.

Like the German beer industry in general, Holsten's sales were hit by the introduction in January 2003 of a compulsory deposit on disposable packaging in Germany.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), however, was up 6% to €124.2m as costs of materials and sales activities fell.

Holsten said it will reduce the 2003 dividend to €0.24 euro per share from 0.45 euro ($0.55) in 2002.