Favorable court decision lifts AquaBounty's stock price by 25 percent

An AquaBounty RAS facility.

A favorable court order regarding AquaBounty Technologies’ plans to build a salmon recirculating aquaculture system in Pioneer, Ohio, U.S.A., caused the company’s stock price to increase by 25 percent in one day.

The Toledo Blade reported the Williams County Common Pleas Court found the William County Board of Commissioners erred in its decision to prevent AquaBounty from building inflow and outflow water pipes. The commissioners had, prior to the court decision, rejected AquaBounty’s requests to lay water pipes for the company's recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) land-based salmon farm. 

Judge Reeve Kelsey, in a 14-page order, said that the board of commissioners took an “arbitrary and capricious” position when it denied AquaBounty’s request, finding that the position was not supported by evidence.

“To the extent the commissioners denied the Pioneer’s application because the commissioners found that the Water Transmission Utility and its water and wastewater transmission lines were not a public utility, the commissioners’ decision is not supported by a preponderance of the substantial, reliable, and probative evidence on the whole record,” Kelsey said in the order.

After the decision was delivered on 19 January, the company’s stock price increased from USD 1.91 (EUR 1.75) per share to USD 2.40 (EUR 2.20) per share. 

AquaBounty leadership welcomed the decision, saying it removed a major hurdle for the project. 

“We are very pleased with the court’s decision and will continue to work with the Village of Pioneer on the path forward,” AquaBounty Board Chair and CEO Sylvia Wulf said.

The path forward for the company is still relatively murky after it announced a pause of construction due to rising costs in June 2023. At the time, the company said the projected cost of the facility had ballooned from its initial estimate of USD 200 million (EUR 183 million) up to a range of USD 375 million to USD 395 million (EUR 344 million to EUR 362 million).

“Given this information, we cannot finance the project through a municipal bond placement without a significant increase in the company’s equity contribution,” Wulf said at the time.

The company was also facing a delisting from the Nasdaq Stock Exchange, which first threatened to remove the company from the Nasdaq Capital Market in November 2022 if it could not get its share price above USD 1 (EUR 0.92). Since that time, the company has executed a 1-for-20 reverse stock split of its common stock, bringing its price back above the threshold.

While the stock split kept the company listed, its stock has still suffered compared to previous years. Based on the new volume, the stock was valued at as much as USD 23.40 (EUR 21.46) per share in January 2023 and sank as low as USD 1.77 (EUR 1.62) in November 2023.

Opponents of the Ohio project said they will continue to fight against the salmon farm, even in the face of the court order.

“There surely are issues around the high volume of wastewater that will be put into the Maumee River Watershed from a major new source, and advocates for cleaning up Lake Erie, who may be far from Williams County, will want to be heard,” Terry Lodge, an attorney for the Willams County Alliance – a group opposed to the farm – told the Toledo Blade.

Photo courtesy of AquaBounty Technologies


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