Asia-Pacific Breweries Ltd (APB) has predicted higher net profit for 2004. The company said today that net profit for the year would exceed last year's S$94 m (US$55 m), thanks to its performance in Indochina.

In an interview with Reuters, APB chief executive Koh Poh Tiong also said the group was increasing the capacity at its brewery in China's Hainan province and would double capacity at its partly-owned Guangdong Brewery Holdings Ltd by 2006.

The brewer, which is 42.5%-owned by Dutch brewer Heineken NV and 37.9%-owned by Singapore beverage and property group Fraser & Neave Ltd, is also considering investing in India's beer market, Koh told Reuters.

"Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I am confident that our full-year result will be better than the previous year," Koh told the agency. "If nothing happens in the next two months, I think we should have a good year."

Net profit at APB rose to S$94.14 m (US$54.26 m) in the year to 30 September 2003, from S$84.90 m a year earlier.

"I would prefer not to make mention of a specific figure because we still have two and a half months to go, and nowadays frankly anything can happen," said Koh.