Alf-Helge Aarskog invests in Samherji’s plan to build land-based salmon farm in Iceland
Akureyri, Iceland-based Samherji has announced a USD 26 million (EUR 25.1 million) share capital investment into a land-based salmon farm project in Iceland, with former Mowi CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog named as a new shareholder.
The funds will be used to build a pilot project in Öxarfjördur, Iceland, and design and construct a 40,000-metric-ton salmon farm in the Resource Park next to the Reykjanes Power Plant in the Reykjanes Peninsula. The project was first announced in June 2021, with HS Orka named as the developer of the project.
At the time, Samherji said the new farm will be developed in three phases over the next 11 years, and will consist of a hatchery, an on-growing farm, a processing house, and service buildings. In a 12 May update on the project, Samherji estimated the total investment required to complete the project at around USD 340 million (EUR 328 million).
Samherji is one of the largest vertically integrated seafood companies in Iceland, with a fleet of fishing vessels, processing factories, and fish farms, with a specialty in Arctic char. The company exports under the "Ice Fresh Seafood" brand. The new land-based project will be run through Samherji Fish Farming, Samherji’s aquaculture division.
Construction has already begun on the pilot project, which Samherji CEO Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson said will double production capacity at the current facility in Öxarfjördur from 1,500 metric tons (MT) of Atlantic salmon annually to 3,000 MT. The company expects to stock juveniles on-site at the end of 2022.
In regard to the full-scale farm,work on the environmental assessment and planning application is underway, but the design will be tweaked as the company continues to gain experience and proficiency operating the pilot project, Baldvinsson said. He said work on the project will advance thanks to an already-approved USD 56.5 million (EUR 54 million) share capital increase.
“Following the share capital increase, a new board will be elected in Samherji Fish Farming at the company's annual general meeting. Norwegian Alf-Helge Aarskog, former CEO of Mowi and one of the world's most experienced experts in the field of aquaculture, has invested in Samherji Fish Farming and will join the company's board of directors,” Baldvinsson said. "Alf-Helge Aarskog's investment and board participation is not only a gain for Samherji Fish Farming, but also Icelandic business as a whole. His board membership is, of course, a great vote of confidence for Samherji's staff. Moreover, the expansion that has begun at Samherji Fish Farming marks a certain milestone, as this is the largest investment project that Samherji and affiliated companies have embarked on in Samherji's 39-year history.”
Aarskog issued a vote of confidence in Samherji’s commitment to the land-based project.
“The competence of the people in Samherji around fish and land-based farming is a great foundation. The fact that Samherji has produced Atlantic salmon and Arctic char on land for a long period of time, makes this the first land-based project I have looked at that I really can believe in,” he said. “ The location has abundant resources of water and energy and I look forward to participating in the development and growth ahead.”
In 2020, the majority shareholders of Samherji transferred their shares to their children in the largest inheritance transfer in Icelandic history, worth between ISK 60 billion and ISK 70 billion (USD 446 million and USD 520 million, EUR 430 million and EUR 502 million).
"We are fully committed to participating in Samherji's ongoing operations. The company has a bright future and has grown and prospered despite various difficulties. Now we have a new generation joining us. We have the opportunity to further evolve our value-added processing, provide work and job security and strengthen the important values of sustainability and responsible use of resources that have been Samherji's strategy from the beginning," Baldvinsson said at the time.
Photo courtesy of Samherji