Morocco royal holding's profit rises 22.6 pct in 2013

RABAT, March 31 (Reuters) - An investment holding firm controlled by Morocco’s monarchy posted a 22.6 percent rise in its net profit, helped mostly by a capital gain from selling stake in dairy firm Centrale Laitiere, and in Morocco’s top biscuit maker, Bimo.

National Investment Co., or SNI, made a net consolidated profit of 6.18 billion Moroccan dirhams ($757.63 million) in 2013 versus 5.04 billion dirhams in 2012 in comparable terms, financial statements published in pro-establishment newspaper Le Matin showed.

Through SNI, the Moroccan royal family - that has ruled Morocco for close to four centuries - is the biggest private stakeholder in the local economy.

Opponents say firms controlled by the king and his close circles dominate key economic sectors.

Last year, SNI sold a 37.7 percent stake in dairy firm Centrale Laitiere to French partner Danone, which paid 550 million euros. It also completed the sale of its remaining 50 percent holding in Morocco’s top biscuit maker, Bimo, to Kraft Foods, which paid 1.31 billion Moroccan dirhams.

Consolidated turnover fell 17 percent to 41.66 billion dirhams and assets dropped 3.8 percent to 109.9 billion dirhams.

Since the merger with another royal holding ONA in 2010, SNI has not released how big a stake Siger, the firm that groups the main business interests of the Moroccan royal family, is holding. Analysts say it hovers around 60 percent.

SNI is under a legal obligation to publish its financial statements because it has bonds traded on the stock market.

The holding is the main shareholder in some of the country’s biggest firms, including AttijariWafa Bank, miner Managem, energy’s Nareva, cement company Lafarge Maroc and Marjane, Morocco’s main supermarket chain.

It plans to focus its future growth strategy on other sectors such as tourism, telecoms and renewable energies. ($1 = 8.1571 Moroccan Dirhams) (Reporting By Aziz El Yaakoubi, editing by David Evans)