OSLO - The world's largest fish farmer, Marine Harvest Group, said on Friday it may pay a dividend based on good 2009 results, and that it expected the market to improve in 2010.
The good operational results and consequential deleveraging of the Company opens up for a dividend based on the 2009 results, Marine Harvest said in a statement.
Based on our revenues, there is a good chance we will (pay a dividend), added Marine Harvest Chief Financial Joergen Andersen, declining to give further details on the likely size.
The company said it had not paid a cash dividend to shareholders since the new Marine Harvest Group was created by the merger in 2006 of Pan Fish, Fjord Seafood and teh former Marine Harvest.
Marine Harvest said its net interest bearing debt at the end of the third quarter had been reduced to about 5.1 billion Norwegian crowns ($916.9 million) from around 6 billion crowns at the end of the second quarter.
Marine Harvest said it had been able to benefit from good prices in the third quarter when it harvested a total of 80,000 tonnes of salmon against earlier forecast of 70,000 tonnes, down from 83,000 tonnes in the second quarter.
The market fundamentals also provide a positive outlook for 2010, Marine Harvest said.
Marine Harvest said restructuring in Chile -- where the company has been hit by various fish diseases -- was on track.
Andersen said the company expected the market balance in to improve in 2010.
Volumes in Chile will be lower in 2010 than in 2009, so it is not likely there will be growth in global supply of salmon next year, he said. A good balance means good possibilities for good prices.
Marine Harvest will release its third-quarter results on Nov. 16.
Shares in Marine Harvest were up 4.2 percent to 4.63 crowns against a 1.0 percent rise on the Oslo bourse main index .OSEBX ($1=5.562 Norwegian Crown) (Reporting by Aasa Christine Stoltz; Editing by Hans Peters)