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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.K. Retailer Digging for Russian Gold

Monsoon PLC, a British fashion retailer for women and children, may join the ranks of international companies seeking to invest in Russia's gold deposits as demand for the precious metal boosts prices and aids the country's economy.

Monsoon, whose founding family is seeking to increase its stake in the London-based company to more than 90 percent, also wants to open stores in Russia and acquire retail property here, chairman and founder Peter Simon said in an interview.

"Investing in strong emerging markets, particularly where there's going to be a strong retailing market, is a good thing to do," Simon said in the interview.

"We believe very strongly in what's going on" in Russia, he said.

Russia's economy is growing for a fifth straight year as oil producers like Yukos and the world's largest nickel miner, Norilsk Nickel, profit from rising oil and metal prices.

Britain's Peter Hambro Mining and Ireland's Celtic Resources Holdings are among companies that invest here.

The company said fiscal-year net profit rose 18 percent. Gold for immediate delivery fell 80 cents to $361.95, trimming its gain for the past year to about 20 percent.

Monsoon had net cash of ?37.4 million ($60.7 million) at the end of May and intends to invest the money rather than pay increased dividends to shareholders, Simon said. The dividend for fiscal 2003 was unchanged at 5 pence per share.

"We still have additional funds and have a duty to invest them for the best possible return, even if there are some risks involved," said Simon, whose family has already made a number of undisclosed investments in Russia.

"The money's going to be invested rather than distributed in dividends," he said.