Mumbai: Several seafood exporters are looking to go public, with at least four of them firming up their IPO plans, buoyed by strong growth in the sector.

Sandhya Marines Ltd, Devi Seafoods Ltd, Nekkanti Sea Foods Ltd and Devi Fisheries Ltd, companies which export shrimps and prawns, are in various stages of listing their shares.

While Sandhya Marines and Devi Seafoods have already filed their share sale documents with the market regulator, the other two companies have hired investment banks for their respective public offerings.

Mint reported in December that Devi Seafoods had initiated conversations to go public.

Devi Seafoods plans to raise Rs900 crore through its initial public offering (IPO), while Sandhya Marines is looking to raise around Rs500-600 crore.

Nekkanti Sea Foods has appointed investment bank Motilal Oswal to manage its share sale, two people aware of the development said.

Last week, VCCircle reported that Devi Fisheries, another Andhra Pradesh-based seafood exporter, has appointed investment banks for its IPO.

Industry experts said seafood exporters are encouraged by the stellar market performance of listed peers.

“While the industry is doing well, the bigger factor that is driving several of these companies to look at a public listing are the valuations at which listed peers such as Apex Frozen Foods and Avanti Feeds Ltd are trading. That is making a lot of other companies to evaluate how they too can partake in this," said Munish Aggarwal, director, capital markets at investment bank Equirus Capital.

Apex Frozen Foods is an integrated producer and exporter of shelf-stable and ready-to-cook products across the US, the UK and European countries. The company sells aquaculture products under three brands—Bay Fresh, Bay Harvest and Bay Premium.

Avanti Feeds is a manufacturer of prawn and fish feeds, and shrimp processor and exporter from India.

Shares of Apex Frozen Foods, which raised Rs152.25 crore through an IPO in August, have since gained 281% from its issue price of Rs175 per share, while shares of Avanti Feeds rose 244% in the last 12 months, data from stock exchanges shows.

Seafood companies’ IPO plans are supported by a robust industry that is showing brisk growth.

In a note on 13 December, rating agency Crisil said it expects shrimp exports from India to nearly double to $7 billion by 2022, driven by strong demand, high quality, improved product mix and an increase in aquaculture area in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Odisha and West Bengal—even as Asian rivals battle structural issues and rising domestic consumption.

India is the biggest exporter of shrimps, with $3.8 billion worth of exports in fiscal 2017.

Crisil added that the larger Indian exporters are expanding infrastructure to cater to increasing demand for value-added products from big global retail chains and restaurants.

While other countries are taking measures to improve their exports, Crisil expects India to remain the top shrimp exporter in the medium term.

“Improving hatchery procedures is helping Thailand recover slowly, but Vietnam is expected to take more time to sort out quality issues. China is struggling with both structural issues and surging domestic demand. Consequently, India’s primacy in shrimp exports is unlikely to be seriously challenged over the medium term," said Crisil.

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