Russian authorities have escalated the conflict over the rights to Carlsberg's brand licenses by arresting senior executives at the seized subsidiary Baltika Breweries on criminal charges of fraud.
On Thursday, the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs conducted a raid at Baltika's St Petersburg office, leading to the arrest of former chief executive Denis Sherstennikov and legal vice-president Anton Rogachevsk. A judge ruled that the two top executives will remain in custody until December 30 while the investigation is ongoing.
Both are accused of stealing the intellectual property of Baltika Breweries by securing rights for Carlsberg to export Baltika's Russian brands to neighboring countries, depriving Baltika of access to its markets.
The arrests coincide with Russian President Vladimir Putin placing Baltika Breweries under "temporary management," leaving Carlsberg with ownership of the shares but without operational control of its subsidiary. (inside.beer, 16.7.2023)
In response, Carlsberg terminated several license agreements for international brands like Tuborg, Kronenbourg 1664, Holsten, Sommersby Cider and some regional brands. (inside.beer, 3.10.2023)
One month later, Carlsberg's new CEO, Jacob Aarup-Andersen, openly accused Moscow of "stealing" the group's Russian assets. (inside.beer, 1.11.2023)
Carlsberg expressed deep concern over the situation, stating, "It is appalling that the efforts of the Russian state to justify their illegal takeover of our business in Russia has now evolved into targeting innocent employees."
"The allegations reported in Russian media are fake," a spokesperson for Carlsberg added.
As the legal and corporate dispute continues, the fate of Baltika Breweries and the international brands it represents remains uncertain, further complicating the already challenging landscape for Carlsberg in the Russian market.