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Rena owner increases dividend payout

JASON KRUPP
Last updated 09:18 13/10/2011

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In what may come as a slap in the face to many New Zealanders, Costamare, the owner of the stranded container ship leaking tonnes of crude oil onto Bay of Plenty beaches, has upped its quarterly dividend to shareholders.

At a special meeting of its board, the Republic of Liberia-incorporated ship charter company approved a US2 cents increase to the dividend, taking total cash payments to US27c a share.

With 60.3 million shares outstanding, that equates to about US$16.3 million ($24.4 million).

Chief financial officer Gregory Zikos said the company was ''very pleased'' to approve the increase which was justified due to the number of acquisitions and chartering agreements completed during the first three quarters of the year.

''Our goal still remains to increase our dividend payments over time, consistent with our dividend policy in order to reward our shareholders for their trust and commitment to the company,'' he said.

Costamare, which is wholly owned by the Konstantakopoulos family, owns a fleet of 41 container ships which it operates under multi-year charters.

The Rena, which is stranded on the Astrolabe reef off Tauranga and looks set to break up in the next few days, was leased from Costamare by Mediterranean Shipping, the world's second biggest shipping line.

MSC began operations to New Zealand in October, with Tauranga its only port of call. It doubled its services to New Zealand before the launch after significant interest from local importers and exporters.

MSC has denied responsibility for the disaster, saying it is ''neither the owner of the vessel nor responsible for its navigation,'' according to a report by BusinessDesk.

Costamare shares fell 2.5 per cent yesterday to US$11.84 on the New Stock Exchange, and have gained 5.4 per cent so far this year.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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