Czech Brewer Exports Grow After Anheuser-Busch Deal

Budejovicky Budvar boosted its exports to the United States last year due to a distribution deal with its U.S. archrival, Anheuser-Busch.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) — The Czech state-owned brewery Budejovicky Budvar NP, which has been fighting a long legal battle with Anheuser-Busch over the Budweiser brand, said Tuesday it boosted its exports to the United States by 37 percent last year due to a distribution deal with its U.S. archrival.

Budvar exported a total of some 11,000 hectoliters (289,500 gallons) of beer to the United States in 2007, compared with some 8,000 hectoliters (210,500 gallons) the previous year, the brewer said in a statement.

''The cooperation with the new U.S. distributor proved to be functioning well,'' it said.

In a deal announced in January last year, Anheuser-Busch agreed to distribute Budvar's Czechvar lager in the United States, giving the Czech company access to its U.S. competitor's unrivaled network of 600 independent wholesalers.

Although Budvar considers itself the maker of the original Budweiser, it has exported its lager to the U.S. under the name Czechvar since 2001 due to trademark issues.

Budvar has fought with U.S.-based beer giant Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc. in a number of countries over use of the famous Budweiser brand, to which both companies claim a historical right.

Last year, Budvar's exports continued to grow to reach a record 587,000 hectoliters (15.5 million gallons), 5.88 percent up from 2006, also a record year, the brewer earlier said.

Budvar exported its beer to 53 countries last year, entering new markets in South Korea, Brazil and Albania, it said, with Germany and Britain the most important markets.

Budvar produced 1.253 million hectoliters (33.1 million gallons) of beer in 2007.

Last year, the Czech government began a process that could lead to Budvar's eventual sale but it was not clear when that might happen.
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