The world's largest instant noodle producer, Indofood, has posted a lower quarterly net profit due in part to higher interest expense.

Indofood, which also owns the world's largest flour miller Bogasari Flour Mills, reported net profit for the first quarter of 2003 of 202.1bn rupiah (US$23.3m), down from 308.6bn rupiah in the year-ago period.

"Higher interest expenses in the first quarter, as a result of higher total debts position as of 31 March 2003, caused net income to decline," Indofood was quoted by Reuters as saying.

The company said interest expenses in the quarter increased to 246bn rupiah compared to 142bn a year earlier. As of 31 March, it had $435m and 3.4trn rupiah in debts outstanding.

Indofood said net sales rose to 4.3trn rupiah in the first quarter, compared to 3.9trn rupiah a year earlier.