(New throughout; updates Camanchaca share price; adds comment)
By Felipe Iturrieta
SANTIAGO, Sept 21 (Reuters) - Shares in Chilean fishing companies surged on Thursday after salmon producer Cia Pesquera Camanchaca SA said it was eyeing a listing in Norway, bringing a rare bout of attention to the illiquid sector.
Camanchaca’s shares rose 15.6 percent to close at 37 pesos($0.0593), after it said on Wednesday it had hired Norwegian bank DNB ASA to evaluate a possible Oslo listing of a third of its shares.
That rally spilled over Multiexport Foods SA, whose shares rose 8.9 percent to close at 221 pesos ($0.3539), and Empresas AquaChile SA, which rose 9.8 percent to close at 302 pesos ($0.4837). All three were among Thursday’s largest gainers in Latin America.
“It’s giving more visibility to the sector,” said Guillermo Araya, analyst at brokerage Renta 4 Chile.
Chile is the world’s second-largest salmon producer, after Norway, and several fisheries are listed on the Santiago Stock Exchange. But the sector often flies under the radar in a the mining-focused economy, which produces a third of the world’s copper.
Chile’s 2017 salmon output is expected to rebound to 725,000 tonnes this year after a massive algal bloom last year sent production tumbling to 675,000 tonnes, the lowest level since 2011. That has come despite fears that stricter environmental regulations would harm output.
Rising output, coupled with surging prices as outbreaks of sea lice and disease have limited Norway’s output, have lifted Chilean salmon stocks in the past two years. Multiexport is up 16 percent so far this year, after surging 206 percent in 2016, while Camanchanca is up 17 percent in 2017 after last year’s 117 percent rise.
Chile’s benchmark IPSA equity index closed at a record-high on Thursday, spurred by rising copper prices and expectations that market-friendly candidate Sebastian Pinera will win November’s presidential elections. It has surged 27.3 percent this year after rising 12.8 percent last year. ($1 = 624.4000 Chilean pesos) (Reporting by Felipe Iturrieta; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Bill Trott and Sandra Maler)