Atlantic Sapphire CEO Johan Andreassen stepping down

Atlantic Sapphire CEO Johan Andreassen holding a salmon.

Atlantic Sapphire Founder Johan Andreassen is planning to step down from the role of CEO, effective as soon as the company's board of directors finds a replacement.

Andreassen founded the recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) salmon farming company, and served as the chair of the its board of directors until stepping down from his position as chair and leaving his role on the board in May 2023. Andreassen has worked as its CEO since 2016, and led the firm as it completed construction on the first phase of its Miami, Florida, U.S.A.-based “bluehouse" farm.

“The company is going from a long entrepreneurial phase to a more mature industrial phase, and now it feels right for me to let someone else take over the CEO position that can spearhead that transition, and I will help to find and onboard my successor,” Andreassen said in a release. “The time is right to start the process of moving on and devoting more of my time to other personal priorities that I’ve sacrificed over the last years, including other companies that I am involved in.”

Andreassen said he will continue to serve in an interim CEO role through the transition phase until a permanent replacement has been selected.

“On behalf of the board of directors, we want to express our gratitude to Johan for his leading role in developing the company into what it is today,” Atlantic Sapphire Board Chair Kenneth Andersen said in a release. “We understand Johan’s priorities and appreciate his continued support of the company in a different role going forward. Johan has built up a strong team that we’re confident will be instrumental in the company’s further development and growth.”

Atlantic Sapphire's board announced the appointment of Mario Palma as its chief operating officer. Previously, Palma has worked as the company’s director of aquaculture engineering since 2017. According to Atlantic Sapphire, he has been a part of the company’s Miami project “since day one,” and prior to that had eight years of experience at aquaculture companies including Mowi. 

Atlantic Sapphire has faced a tumultuous few years as it works to build what would be the largest land-based salmon farm in the world, slated to produce 220,000 metric tons (MT) of salmon by 2031. 

The company faced setbacks during the construction of phase one of its facility in 2020. Then the company’s established RAS salmon farm in Denmark was hit by a mortality event just before it suffered a massive fire in 2021 that resulted in a total loss of the facility. The the company described 2022 as a “challenging” year in its FY 2022 results. Then in August of this year, the company announced it would likely breach financial covenants based on its projected revenue and cash flow in H2 2023.

Despite the setbacks, Andreassen announced his departure soon after the company had an extremely successful private placement on 19 September that raised NOK 702 million (then USD 65 million, EUR 61 million) in funding in only eight hours. Since that time, the company announced a subsequent offering on 23 October, offering up another 100 million new shares to raise gross proceeds of up to NOK 140 million (USD 12.5 million, EUR 11.8 million). The subscription period for the subsequent offer will close on 3 November, 2023.  

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Sapphire


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