New Britain Palm Oil (NBPO) has reported strong trading for the first half of 2014, however the company could face a new take over bid, after its biggest shareholder revealed it is disposing of its 48.97% stake in the company.

The palm oil producer saw an increase of 126.3% in pre-tax profit, for the six months ending 30 June 2014. It also reported a gross margin of 42.2%, nearly 10% higher than last year, reflecting higher selling prices and cash cost reductions.

The group has also recieved a letter from Kulim, majority shareholder, proposing its desire to divest its entire equity interest in NBPO. 

The company do not know whether this will result in a change of control or a formal takeover offer for all or part of Kulim’s issued share capital. 

In a statement, NBPO said: "The Board intends to establish an independent board committee to ensure that the best possible outcome is obtained for all shareholders and to ensure compliance by the Company with its obligations under the PNG Code."

The company states that its Liverpool refinery had continued to grow sales volumes in both the bulk and bakery sectors with a record level of fully traceable and certified sustainable palm oil delivered to customers in the first half.

Commenting on the half year results, Nick Thompson, chief executive officer said:  “The Group’s operational performance for the first half of 2014 was very strong with record production of FFB and total oils which, together with better extraction rates, higher selling prices achieved and lower costs of production, resulted in a profit before tax of USD 73.1 million excluding unrealised non-cash foreign exchange gains.

“Palm oil prices during the period have been trading in a broad range between USD 830 and USD 990 per tonne. While the outlook for palm oil demand remains robust, the record supply of alternative vegetable oils has resulted in current prices trading at their lowest levels so far this year.

“It also appears less likely that an “El Niño” event will have a materially negative impact on global palm oil production, as was previously predicted by climate models. On a positive note, increasing local consumption in Malaysia and Indonesia and a strengthening of the global economy continue to be supportive for longer term pricing.”

NBPO is a major producer of palm oil from sustainable resources and employs around 100 staff at its refinery and bakery unit on Bootle’s Regent Road, Liverpool.