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Carlsberg sales hit by Russian move to limit bottle sizes

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COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) - Danish brewer Carlsberg says its profits and sales fell last year, partly because of weakness in its key Russian market, where a law limited the maximum size of plastic bottles.

Carlsberg said Wednesday that its 2017 net profit fell to 1.26 billion kroner ($210 million), from 4.49 billion kroner a year earlier. Revenue dropped to 61.8 billion kroner from 62.6 billion kroner.

The company said that sales volumes in Russia, which accounts for a fifth of its revenue, fell 14 percent and its market share dropped to 31.9 percent from 34.6 percent. It also booked a 4.8 billion kroner ($800 million) impairment charge for its Baltika brand following the change to the size in the popular so-called PET bottles.

Fourth quarter sales dropped marginally to 23.6 billion kroner ($4 billion).

CEO Cees 't Hart said Carlsberg delivered "a strong set of results for 2017, fuelled by disciplined execution of our efficiency program." He said the program would save about 2.3 billion kroner ($383 million), "well above" the initial expectations for 1.5-2.0 billion kroner.

Carlsberg shares dropped 3.7 percent in morning trading in Copenhagen to 713.8 kroner.

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