Baltic Beverages Holdings, the joint venture between Scottish & Newcastle and Carlsberg, reported a 26% increase in first-half Ebitda to Eu215m (£148.5m). First half-net sales reached Eu816m, up 18.6%. The group said that Russia and Kazakhstan had led the increase, with growth in volume of 17% and 61% respectively. The company said that it was on track to take a 37% stake in Russia's beer market by the end of the year. BBH is already the country’s biggest brewer. Christian Ramm-Schmidt, BBH’s managing director said: "BBH’s results show good sales, volume and profit development in the first half of 2005, demonstrating the underlying strengths of our businesses. BBH is now in a very strong position to drive increased value for all shareholders by working more closely together across the group. "BBH Russia must continue to evolve to lead the market in scale and efficiency. There is now an excellent opportunity to create a business with an unrivalled position in terms of sales coverage and brand portfolio and a world class production and distribution network." The company's moves to consolidate its Russian interests have been challenged in the courts by a minority shareholder in Baltika called Electromir. Ramm-Schmidt said he was confident it had acted within Russian law and would defeat the claim.