ECONOMY

Interfish fishes for funds

Aquaculture company Interfish said yesterday it hopes to raise up to 3.5 million euros from an initial public offering, with the proceeds to be used to modernize its facilities. The IPO, which kicks off today and ends on July 8, combines a private placement of 35,000 shares and a public offering of 715,000 shares. With a price range set at between 4.30-4.70 euros, the IPO could raise as much as 3.52 million euros for the company. Based on the price estimates, the company would have a market capitalization of between 15.4-16.8 million euros. «Our goal is to make Interfish a modern operation,» said Fotis Galanis, chief executive officer. Interfish, the product of a merger of three aquaculture companies in the last four years, plans to use more than four-fifths of the IPO proceeds to expand and upgrade its facilities, he said. This includes the construction of a bigger packaging unit and larger storage facilities. Slightly more than 15 percent of the capital raised will be used to pay down its short-term bank debts. Galanis said low production costs and relatively high prices of fish mean profit margins are high. Interfish is projecting a 1.4 percent increase in pretax profits this year against an 18.8 percent rise in revenues. It posted sales of 8.5 million euros and pretax profits of 1.55 million euros in 2002, up 108 percent and 178 percent respectively. The company plans to invest 3 million euros between now and the second half of 2004 upgrading its operations. About 64 percent of the company’s products are exported to Italy and Spain and the remaining 36 percent distributed domestically. Omega Bank is lead underwriter and Omega Securities the issue adviser.