Page last updated at 08:00 GMT, Wednesday, 26 August 2009 09:00 UK

Cost cuts boost Heineken profits

Heineken beer
Heineken is the world's third-largest brewer

The world's third-largest brewer, Heineken, has reported better-than-expected six-month results, as cost cuts offset a fall in sales.

Net profit for the first six months of the year came in at 489m euros ($699m; £429m), up 20% from the same period in the previous year.

Beer sales excluding acquisitions fell 6.6%, the company said.

Heineken said its cost-cutting programme had yielded 50m euros of savings in the first half of 2009.

"We see substantial opportunity to drive down our cost base in the second half of the year and beyond," said Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, chairman and chief executive of Heineken.

Profits were also boosted by a one-off gain from buying back some of the debt of the pub-management arm of Scottish & Newcastle.

Mr van Boxmeer added that the integration of Scottish & Newcastle and other recent acquisitions had been completed.

"There are clear signs that our specific plans to improve profitability in each of these businesses, and to strengthen our long-term market position in the UK, are bearing fruit," he said.

Heineken teamed up with Carlsberg to buy Scottish & Newcastle for £7.8bn in 2008, taking most of its UK assets.

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