Aberdeen-Backed Petrobras Tug Operator Seeks 50% Dividend

Wilson Sons Ltd., the Brazilian ports and tugboat operator backed by Aberdeen Asset Management Plc, expects to give about half of its profit back to shareholders after investing more than $1 billion to expand operations.

The company, founded in 1837 by Scottish entrepreneurs to trade products including coal and whiskey, expects to sustain the 50 percent ratio of dividends as the Rio de Janeiro-based company looks to expand along Brazil’s coastline, Chief Financial Officer Felipe Gutterres said. Wilson Sons’s investments are delivering profit growth after the company spent more than $1 billion from 2007 through late 2013 to add shipyard capacity and port space, he said.

“There is a robust potential for dividend increases,” Gutterres, 41, said during an interview at Bloomberg’s office in Rio yesterday. “It’s sustainable.”

Wilson Sons in March agreed to pay $27 million in dividends after reporting record earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization for 2013. Shares of the firm that also operates container terminals, shipyards and vessels for the oil and natural gas industry in Brazil last month reached the highest level since its 2007 listing.

The company, which in May won a contract to build at its Guaruja shipyard two platform-supply vessels for Petroleo Brasileiro SA, will seek new orders from Brazil’s state-controlled oil producer in the second half of the year, Gutterres said.

Petrobras Vessels

Wilson Sons is operating 19 units for Petrobras, he said, adding that three more vessels under construction outside Brazil will probably be used by the oil producer.

“Petrobras alone responds for 14 percent of the group’s revenue,” Gutterres said. “Our relationship with Petrobras is very good.”

Aberdeen holds a 18.8 percent stake in Wilson Sons, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That makes Europe’s biggest publicly traded money manager the company’s largest shareholder after the Salomon family, which controls the company after leading a group of investors that bought Wilson Sons in 1959.

Wilson Sons lost 0.7 percent to close at 31.76 reais in Sao Paulo yesterday. The stock, which is not trading today due to a public holiday in Brazil’s largest city, advanced 18 percent in the last 12 months.

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