The Russian brewer Baltika has seen a fall in net profit in the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year as excise tax affected sales of its beer.

The company, which is jointly owned by Carlsberg and Scottish & Newcastle said first half net profit declined to US$64.41m from US$72.08m last year.

"A sharp increase in excise taxes at the beginning of 2003 negatively affected the sales volumes. Net sales declined six percent compared to 2002 and fell two percent more than gross sales," Baltika said in a statement.

Net sales were down to US$336.05m from US$356.37m, while excise taxes rose to US$32.82m from US$28.56m.