Cermaq invests in ailing Lighthouse Caledonia

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
February 17, 2009

Aquaculture giant Cermaq ASA announced today that it has invested NOK 25 million (USD 3.6 million, EUR 2.8 million) of the NOK 150 million (USD 21.7 million, EUR 17 million) worth of new shares Lighthouse Caledonia ASA has attained as part of a private placement.

The private placement, which is subject to approval by Lighthouse Caledonia shareholders at a 3 March meeting, is key to restructuring the struggling Scottish farmed salmon producer. Lighthouse’s board said today it is confident that bankruptcy can now be avoided.

In addition to Cermaq’s contribution, private equity firm Northern Link Ltd. has purchased 770 million Lighthouse shares.

Cermaq also announced today that its EWOS UK subsidiary signed a new fish feed contract with Lighthouse Caledonia that will take effect at the end of March.

The news comes three days after Cermaq posted a fourth-quarter loss of NOK 35 million (USD 5.1 million, EUR 4 million). The Norwegian company blamed the loss partly on the infectious salmon anemia (ISA) outbreak in Chile, which has curbed production at its Mainstream Chile subsidiary.

Cermaq said the disease hit the company harder than expected in the fourth quarter of 2008, and the “heavy losses” it incurred will continue into the first quarter of 2009.

In the fourth quarter, 79 new ISA cases were reported in Chile, 11 of which affected Mainstream. The company has not transferred Atlantic salmon smolt since November and plans to reduce transfer from 8.4 million smolt in 2008 to 5 million smolt in 2009.

“New regulations and improved methods and routines will lead to better sanitary conditions in Chilean salmon farming going forward, but it will take a long time to rebuild the production. We will be cautious and not increase the volumes of Atlantic salmon until we can be more certain of the sanitary environment,” said Cermaq CEO Geir Isaksen.
 

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