13 Dec 2012

Aotearoa Fisheries posts 25% drop in profit

9:12 am on 13 December 2012

New Zealand's largest Maori-owned fishing company has posted a 25% drop in profit for the 2011-2012 year.

Auckland-based Aotearoa Fisheries Limited, made a profit of $17 million compared with nearly $23 million in the previous year.

Chief executive Carl Carrington says despite the drop in profit the company performed to expectations.

He says a combination of the high value of the New Zealand dollar and a reduced profit from the Sealord Group, in which it holds a 50% share, contributed to a lower income.

Chairman Whaimutu Dewes says the nature of the business means the value of the New Zealand dollar against the US currency can have a major impact.

Mr Dewes says because the company exports mostly seafood products, it has to either hedge against the value of the New Zealand dollar, or try to diversify its markets.

He says despite the drop in profit, Aotearoa Fisheries has reduced its debt by $13 million and declared a dividend of $6.8 million for its iwi shareholders.

The company has also announced a special taxable bonus share issue totalling $141 million.

The issue will allow Aotearoa Fisheries to unlock $30 million of tax credits which can be turned into a cash benefit for its 57 iwi shareholders.

In addition to its half share in the Sealord Group which has assets of more than $750 million, Aotearoa Fisheries manages a variety of seafood assets, which include fishing, oysters, crayfish and paua, and are worth $500 million.