Carlsberg's chief executive says the brewer will defend its market position "at any cost," according to press reports. Speaking to Danish daily newspaper Boersen, Nils Smedegaard Andersen said: "Our attitude - and it doesn't matter whether it's a price war in Scandinavia or whatever - is that we will not squander our market position to earn DKK100 m (US$16.2 m) more or less in a year."

Andersen's comments follow the release of Carlsberg's 50%-owned venture Baltic Beverages Holding's interim earnings last week, highlighting that the concern has lost market share in Russia in the last three quarters.

"As long as it's a matter of branded beers, we will fight for every percentage point (of the market), no matter what it costs," Smedegaard added.

BBH's profitability is falling because of rising sales, distribution and marketing costs, Boersen added.

"For Russia ... marketing budgets ... have now been doubled to about 7% of turnover and I think that level is sustainable in the future, although they can naturally be raised if necessary," Andersen told the paper.

"BBH has a turnover that is almost three times as high as that of the number two brewer (Sun Interbrew), and 7% of that for marketing is more than the number two can ever dream of paying."