AMSTERDAM: Dutch brewer Heineken has reported a 26% rise in first-half net profit with strong sales in the Americas and Europe thanks in part to a surge in beer drinking during the summer's soccer World Cup tournament.

The world's fourth-largest brewer by volume reports H1 net profit rose to €433 million ($554m) from €345m a year earlier. Heineken's sales rose 12% to €5.74 billion from €5.14bn in the first half of 2005.

The company said it performed especially well in the US thanks to the introduction of its Heineken Premium Light brand.

In Western Europe the positive impact from the World Cup was most noticeable in host nation Germany, with increases in the Netherlands, France, Britain and Spain. The company also reported noteworthy sales increases in Russia and Poland.

Exceptions were Italy, which suffered from an economic decline, and Lebanon.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff