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SABMiller reports profits slide

LONDON, Nov 19 – Britain-based brewer SABMiller said on Thursday that its net profits slumped by almost one third during the group\’s first half, adding that it faced further struggles despite stabilising economic growth.

Profits after tax dropped 31.6 percent to 973 million dollars (653 million euros) in the six months to September 30 compared with its first half in 2008-09, hit by unfavourable currency movements, it said in a statement.

The brewer, which makes Miller Lite and Coors Light beers, added that sales declined 20.8 percent to 8.846 billion dollars.

"Overall, we expect the current trading conditions to continue in the second half, as unemployment, retail spending and other consumer indicators lag the reported stabilisation of GDP in many of our markets," SABMiller added in its earnings statement.

Chief executive Graham Mackay said "weakness" of the group\’s "major operating currencies against the US dollar" had affected first-half net profits.

But he added: "We have continued to generate a strong underlying performance. The actions we have taken to position our business globally, to invest in brands and to develop our operational capabilities will continue to underpin our long term growth."

SABMiller was founded in Johannesburg in 1895 and dominates the South African beer market with brands including Castle Lager. It was known formerly as South African Breweries until it bought the Miller brand in 2002.

The group has rapidly expanded its global empire in recent years, snapping up assets in Asia, Central and South America and Europe. It bought Dutch peer Royal Grolsch in 2007.

SABMiller is also one of the largest bottlers of Coca-Cola products.

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