MOSCOW, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Russian fish firm Russkoe More could pay its first dividend since listing as it benefits from Russia’s ban on Western fish imports, Dmitry Dangauer, its chief executive, told Reuters.
The firm, whose name translates as Russian Sea, was listed in Moscow in 2010 and has a free-float of 14 percent. Moscow banned most Western food imports, worth $9 billion a year, in early August in response to the United States and European Union’s sanctions over Russia’s role in Ukraine.
“The whole group should show better results,” Dangauer said. “I do not exclude that we’ll pay dividends for this year.”
Russian Sea says its distribution business was hit as it was not able to import Norwegian salmon anymore, but it hopes to compensate the losses with its own aquaculture which it wants eventually to be its main source of income.
Its distribution arm, the largest in Russia, had annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of about 500 million roubles ($12.5 million) from supplies of 170,000 tonnes of fish before the ban.
The firm’s aim for its aquaculture business, which began in 2012 and is expected to show the first profit this year, is to reach an annual EBITDA of 2 billion roubles by 2018.
The output from its own aquaculture is expected to rise to 10,000 tonnes of fish in 2015 from 4,000 tonnes in 2014. By 2018 the company targets output of 25,000 tonnes.
Shares in the fish firm jumped as much as 70 percent in the days after the ban but later fell back leaving them 3 percent higher since the start of the year.
Oil-to-banking tycoon Gennady Timchenko, a friend of President Vladimir Putin, bought a 30 percent stake in the firm in 2011, betting on rising demand for salmon. After Washington first imposed sanctions in March, Timchenko sold his stake to son-in-law Gleb Frank.
To support its distribution business after the Kremlin’s ban, the firm has increased imports from the Faroe Islands and Chile, which are not subject to sanctions, the CEO added.
According to his estimate, the Faroes are able to supply between 25,000 and 30,000 tonnes of chilled salmon to Russia per year and these supplies are the only alternative for banned Norwegian supplies of this product.
“If you compare it with Russia’s consumption, which stood at 130,000 tonnes (of chilled salmon) last year, you will understand that it’s not enough and that it gives prospects for our own aquaculture in terms of demand.”
Chile is able to supply only frozen fish to Russia, amounting to up to 100,000 tonnes per year, he added.
1 US dollar = 40.1202 Russian rouble Reporting by Olga Sichkar; Writing by Polina Devitt, editing by Jason Bush and Elaine Hardcastle