Danish vegetable oils maker Aarhus United has reported higher third-quarter net profit, boosted by the strong performance of its domestic unit.

The company reported consolidated net profits of DKK39m (US$6.95m), compared to DKK25m in the third quarter of last year. The improvement was driven by all four production companies in the group, with the largest increase recorded by Aarhus United Denmark. Third-quarter revenue was DKK1.27bn, compared to DKK1.17bn a year earlier.

For the full year, the company said it expects consolidated net profits in the range of DKK140-160m.

Aarhus said its main shareholder, United International Enterprises Limited (UIE), has announced that it is actively seeking to divest its shares.

"The various bids for the shares have been presented to me, and several of them are both serious and attractive," said Aarhus CEO Erik Højsholt. "We are looking forward to a constructive negotiation process in the weeks to come."

Højsholt said Aarhus United Denmark has had a particularly good year, primarily in the sales of speciality fats. Aarhus United Mexico is seeing growth in sales as well as earnings, and earnings for Aarhus United USA are improving as well.

"The development in sales is indeed promising. However, when it comes to 2005 we are reluctant to increase our expectations. Like everybody else in this market, we must consider the low US dollar rate, which may influence sales, and the energy prices that are currently escalating to previously unseen levels," Højsholt added.