Danish brewing group, Carlsberg Breweries A/S, has announced that it is to sell its 32% stake in the Lithuanian brewer, Svyturys Utenos Alus, to Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH), the Danish company's 50/50 joint venture with Scottish & Newcastle.

The acquisition of the Carlsberg stake will give BBH 76% of Svyturys Utenos Alus, the leading brewer in the country, and under Lithuanian law it must make a public offer for the remaining shares in the company within the next 30 days. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development owns 11% of the company, as does the Danish development foundation. The remaining 2% is owned by local investors.

Carlsberg said the sale was part of its strategy of transferring ownership of operations in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltic countries to BBH. It will result in a net gain of DKK35m for Carlsberg Breweries in the first half of 2002.

Svyturys Utenos Alus was formed in January with the merger of Lithuania's two leading brewers, Svyturys and Utenos Alus. The company has a 48% market share.