Scottish and Newcastle is breaking into the Russian and eastern European markets by spending £1.2bn to buy Finnish brewer Hartwall. This is the latest step in the company's transformation into one of the leading players in the global brewing business and follows its acquisition in 2000 of leading French operator Kronenbourg. City analysts are already predicting this will help to loosen its ties on the UK and have suggested S&N's pub estate will be up for sale in the next three years. Hartwall is the leading brewer in Finland and owns its top brand Lapin Kulta. Through its joint venture Baltic Beverages Holding (BBH), it is the market leader in Russia with a 30% share of the country's beer sales. BBH is owned 50:50 by Hartwall and Carlsberg. City analyst Nigel Popham said: "The market is taking the view that the risk profile of S&N has increased with this deal as 85% of Hartwall's business comes from Russia and associated economies. "Russia is reckoned to be more stable now but its future is still uncertain. This significantly increases the size of S&N and makes it less digestible to the other predators in the industry." S&N chairman Brian Stewart said: "By adding a strong high growth position of BBH to our western European platform, enhanced by the Finnish market position of Hartwall, we are creating a leading force across the whole of Europe." A company spokeswoman added the S&N was considering exporting some of its beers to these new markets in the east but there were no plans to introduce Hartwall brands to the UK. The deal to acquire Hartwall is an all share offer from S&N which is expected to go through in April. {{NEWS }}