Ireland Blyth to set up seafood business in Gabon

PORT LOUIS Fri Feb 8, 2013 4:05am EST

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PORT LOUIS Feb 8 (Reuters) - Mauritian company Ireland Blyth Ltd is to invest in a new seafood business in Gabon, it said when reporting a 20 percent rise in first-half profit driven by existing operations in the sector.

IBL has signed an agreement with Gabon and local investment fund Fonds Gabonais d'Investissements Strategiques that will see 25 million euros ($33 million) invested in the country's seafood and marine industry.

IBL will contribute 60 percent of the cost, with Fonds Gabonais d'Investissements Strategiques meeting the balance.

"This private-public partnership is in line with our strategy to consolidate our position in Africa," chief executive Nicolas Maigrot said on Friday.

IBL's pretax profit rose to 416 million rupees ($14 million) in the six months to December - its first half, driven by a 52 percent rise in earnings from seafood and marine operations.

Earnings per share rose 10 percent to 4.00 rupees.

"The double effect of a rise in profit and the signature of public-private partnership with Gabon authorities has boosted investors confidence," Kavissen Senivassen, financial analyst at LSF Securities, told Reuters. "The market feels that the expansion into Africa will create more value for shareholders."

IBL shares were up 3.8 percent to 82.50 rupees by 0900 GMT. ($1 = 30.4500 Mauritius rupees = 0.7469 euro) (Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Dan Lalor)

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