The Austrian brewer and juice maker BBAG, which is subject to a takeover offer from Heineken, saw its operating incomes rise 16.2% for 2002, to €79.5m (US$89.18m).

Sales reached €1.1 billion, largely the same as last year.

A decline in corporate tax also led to the significant increase of the earnings per share by 54.2% to €3.27.

The board has suggested a 10% increase in the company's dividend to €1.54 for each BBAG share and €1.87 per Brau Union share.

In the beer division, the Goesser brand rose 5.8% thanks to the introduction into the Romanian market as well as a doubling of its sales volume in Russia under the licensed brewing agreement.

Meanwhile in the non-alcoholic beverages division, the company said business was characterised by the unfavourable economic situation in Italy, the main market for Pago fruit juice.

However it said it had reacted with a restructuring program, which will lead to cost savings of approximately 8% of Pago's sales.