Agrosuper to pursue 100 percent of AquaChile, dropping plans to list on Oslo exchange

Published on
August 9, 2018

Chilean animal protein giant Agrosuper will halt plans to list Chile’s largest national salmon farmer AquaChile on the Oslo Bors exchange, and is strengthening its salmon business to grow its global exports. 

Agrosuper announced on 4 August it had reached an USD 850 million (EUR 736.4 million) agreement to buy 67 percent of AquaChile from Holding Salmones Ltd. and Inversiones Patagonia Ltd., Agrosuper will pay USD 0.73 (EUR 0.63) per share. 

If and when the transaction is approved by Chilean authorities, the company then plans hold a public takeover bid (TOB) to acquire the remaining shares and consolidate 100 percent ownership, the company informed SeafoodSource via email.

“This operation, subject to a due diligence and the approval of Chilean authorities and regulators, will allow Agrosuper and Los Fiordos to generate synergies to empower its aquaculture division and international presence,” Agrosuper spokesperson María Francisca Ariztia Wolleter said in a statement to SeafoodSource. “AquaChile is a leading salmon farming company in Chile, and we are very happy of being able to reach this agreement for the consolidation of the Chilean Industry.”

The deal, once approved, will give the company an additional 200,000 metric tons of salmon production annually, estimated to be 22 to 25 percent share of Chile’s salmon total production and seven percent globally, making it the second-largest salmon company in the world. 

In an interview with Chile’s largest daily newspaper El Mercurio, Agrosuper General Manager José Guzmán said his firm’s share of the national market will help the industry, but is not big enough to worry anti-trust authorities. 

Guzmán confirmed that the new owners would suspend AquaChile’s plans to become listed in the Oslo Bors index, and that although Agrosuper could be open to future alternatives involving a public exchange, it has no current plans to go public in any form.

Guzmán also said that Agrosuper would study and potentially revise its organizational structure in the salmon business. Currently Agrosuper operates a subsidiary, Los Fiordos, and sells nationally under its “SuperSalmon” brand. 

“Its highly probable that AquaChile will be the principal society. I don’t know if it will be the only, but it will be the main one. Therefore, its open status on the (Chilean) stock exchange will not depend on the TOB,” Guzmán said.

The deal was positively received in the Chilean stock exchange, with the shares of all the listed salmon farmers rising between 1.5 to 9.5 percent the day of the announcement.

Guzmán said high-level discussions on the deal started in the middle of July, and the decision and agreement were reached in early August after marathon talks led by AquaChile’s controlling Puchi and Fischer families. 

Also speaking with El Mercurio, SalmonChile president Arturo Clement called the deal “surprising” but said it was a beneficial development for the industry.

Clement said that the fact that AquaChile will be bought with Chilean capital is especially positive for the industry and shows a high level of confidence in the industry. He also cast away any concerns on market consolidation. 

“With the operation 23 percent of the market will be consolidated, which is not so much for Chile. I do not believe there is a risk for free competition. [Approval] will be a routine process,” Clement said.

Clement also speculated that AquaChile’s controllers were planning on exiting AquaChile after its increase in capital and eventual IPO but did not expect it so soon. He believes that the failed attempted to merge AquaChile into Norway’s Marine Harvest in 2015 could also have motivated the Puchi and Fischer families to sell.

Photo courtesy of La Tercera

Reporting from Santiago, Chile

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