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Premier’s big catch

PREMIER Fishing (PremFish) – the seafood specialist controlled by BEE company African Equity Empowerment Investments (AEEI) – has landed a bigger profit catch than initially expected. AEEI recently reported that in the year to end August PremFish not only increased its sales volumes, but also achieved better pricing, managed to secure good catch rates and efficient vessel scheduling and utilisation. PremFish consequently saw revenue growth of 15% to R401m and operating profit increasing to R75m (compared with R68m in the prior year.)

PremFish is a vertically integrated fishing group specialising in harvesting, processing, sales and distribution rock lobster, squid, abalone, pilchards, hake, tuna, seaweed, general food products and environmentally friendly agri-biotechnology products.

The company controls 60% of the South African Rock Lobster market (which is mainly exported to the USA) and 12 % of the total Rock Lobster market (mainly exported to the Far East.)

PremFish is also making strong shifts into aquaculture, and recently received environmental approval to expand its abalone farm in Gansbaai. AEEI disclosed that the operational performance of the abalone farm continued to improve year on year, giving PremFish a degree of control to manage consistent production outputs. AEEI added that greater sales volumes were achieved this year – driven by larger customer demand and better pricing. The expansion plans on the abalone farm are scheduled to commence during 2017.

AEEI CEO Khalid Abdullah reckoned the acquisition of small-medium sized companies were also possible at PremFish – including buying processing and canning facilities as well as securing outside fishing quotas. He said PremFish had already engaged two target companies, and plans were being formulated to develop other farmed species.

It seems that PremFish could also raise substantial capital in the medium-term with AEEI indicating that plans to separately list the seafood company on the JSE were well underway.

PremFish would be only the second fishing company on the JSE, joining Oceana Group. Indications are that PremFish could be valued at between R1.5bn to R1.6bn when listed on the JSE.

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