FORUM LINE PAYS SAMOA A DIVIDEND

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By Terry Tavita

APIA, Samoa (April 26, 2002 - Samoa Observer/PINA Nius Online)---The Samoan government yesterday received a check for WST$ 24,977 (US$ 7,205) in dividends from the Pacific Forum Line.

The government, which has 1,522,826 shares, has been a major supporter of the shipping company since its inception in 1977.

Samoa is the fourth largest shareholder after Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji.

Minister of Transport Palusalue Fa'apo II was on hand to receive the check from Pacific Forum Line Regional Manager Samau Etuale Sefo and Samoa's board representative Patrick Fepulea'i.

This is the first dividend payment. A second check in the same amount is expected to be presented in June.

Palusalue congratulated the line for maintaining a profitable balance sheet despite the hardships that have been facing international shipping companies in recent years.

He also reinforced the government's commitment to support the Pacific Forum Line.

According to Mr. Fepulea'i, the dividend was carried forward from the company's profits in 1999.

In that year, the company achieved a record actual profit of NZ$ 1,237,000 (US$ 558,134). The board then decided that 5 percent of the profits would go to its members.

The dividends were withheld in 2000 as collateral for the line's purchase of the container vessels Fuakavega II and Forum Samoa II.

Pacific Forum Line was established in 1977 under the Pacific Forum Charter and a Memorandum of Understanding among the Cook Islands, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga.

The line, for many years, incurred heavy losses.

Since the 1990s, the company has been able to "turn the tide" on its fortunes. 1997 was the first year it was able to pay dividends to its shareholders.

For additional reports from the Samoa Observer, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Samoa Observer.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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