Hellenic Petroleum on Thursday said it will seek shareholders’ approval for a plan to pay a 0.45-euro per share dividend to shareholders, unchanged from last year, after the group reported net profits of 180 million euros in 2010, down from 199 million euros in 2009.

Comparable net profits (excluding an extra tax charge and higher capital gains tax) grew to 205 million euros last year, from 174 million euros in 2009.

Consolidated sales grew 14 pct to 8.47 billion euros in 2010, from 7.42 billion euros a year earlier despite the fact that volumes of sales by refineries and its two downstream companies (EKO and Hellenic Fuels - the former BP) were affected by lower fuel consumption.

Yiannis Kostopoulos, chief executive of the group, stressed that “we achieved satisfactory results because of an improved refinery environment globally, higher oil prices, a recovery of the US dollar and significant progress in efficiency boosting works. This year will also be difficult, but Hellenic Petroleum expects a continuing improvement in competitiveness”.