Business

Unilever profits show strong gain

Unilever logo
Image caption Unilever's products span a broad range of brands including Cif cleaner and Dove soap.

Unilever, the maker of Knorr soups, Cif cleaning products and Magnum ice cream, has reported a 13% rise in third quarter net profits.

The company made 1.35bn euros (£1.18bn, $1.9bn) for the three months to the end of September.

Unilever, the second biggest producer of consumer goods in the world, makes a broad range of products that also include Dove soaps, Lipton teas and Ben & Jerry's ice creams.

Its shares rose 5% in morning trade.

Unilever said cost-cutting and the weak euro had offset higher raw materials costs.

However, the company added that emerging markets were growing more slowly than they had been earlier this year.

Investigations

Unilever recently bought the Alberto hair products company, whose brands include VO5 and Tresemme, for $3.7bn.

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It also said it expected to close a 1.3bn-euro bid for Sara Lee's personal care products division in the next three months.

That bid is being examined by European regulators. If it clears the probe, Unilever will outstrip arch-rival Proctor and Gamble to become the biggest consumer products company in the world.

The company is also the subject of a two-year investigation by the European Commission in relation to consumer detergents, as well as a number of other investigations by national competition authorities in countries including Belgium, Germany and Italy.

Its statement said it had put aside an unspecified sum to use in case it was fined for any breaches as, it said, "fines imposed by the European Commission in other sectors for violations of the competition rules have amounted to hundreds of millions of euros".

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