Heineken profits rocket by 81 percent says brewer

Bottles of beer are seen at the production line of Dutch brewer Heineken factory on June 7, 2011 in Schiltigheim, eastern France, during an official visit announcing the group's goals for sustainable development, by reducing the amount of glass in some beer bottles' production, and lowering by 20 percent the energy needed at its Alsacian factory. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK HERTZOG (AFP Photo/Patrick Hertzog)

The Hague (AFP) - Dutch brewer Heineken said Monday its first quarter profits had almost doubled, with net earnings rising by 81 percent to 1.14 billion euros.

The big rise in profits was driven by higher sales and a big tax gain on the sale of its Mexican packaging arm.

Heineken sold EMPAQUE, one of Mexico's biggest drinks can and bottle makers to US Crown Holdings in February for 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion).

The consolidated turnover of the world's third largest brewer after InBev and SABMiller reached 10.93 billion euros, a rise of 7.2 percent, it said.

Heineken's CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said he was delighted with the results particularly since they came from a solid base and despite "difficult conditions in certain markets".

Last year the brewer's second quarter results were boosted by the football World Cup, particularly in western Europe.