Big merger in Greek sea bass, sea bream sector takes step forward
A merger of three of Greece’s largest aquaculture firms, which had been held up by European Commission antitrust concerns, took a step forward recently after the completion of a mandatory divestment.
In June 2018, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates-based Mubadala Investment Company, along with U.S. private equity firm AMERRA Capital Management, moved to acquire Selonda and Nireus and merge them with The Andromeda Group, which was purchased by AMERRA in 2016.
The three companies produce sea bass, sea bream, and meager at farms in Greece and elsewhere in the Mediterranean, in addition to operating a fry operation and performing value-added processing.
But, in an edict issued in February 2019 under its rules for regulating European markets, the E.C. expressed concern the three-way merger would result in “higher prices for customers of Mediterranean farmed fish, as well as of sea bream and sea bass fry.”
Amerra and Mubadala agreed to divest themselves of farms collectively producing 10,000 metric tons of sea bass and sea bream, as well as hatcheries that produce 50 million fry annually, along with information on its breeding and aquaculture research programs. In response, the E.C. gave its approval, saying such a move “would no longer raise competition concerns.”
In an 8 August announcement, Selonda notified shareholders the E.C.’s condition – meaning the sale of the farming assets – had been met on 2 August, allowing its merger with Nireus and Andromeda to move forward. According to the Greek news site Capital, the buyers are Diorasis International SA, a Greek private investment firm and the owner of Aquaculture G&P Bitsakos, and Kefalonia Fish Farms. Most of the farms set to be transferred currently belong to Selonda, Capital added.
The price of the transaction has not been released, and the transaction must still be approved by the European Commission’s Competition Directorate (DG Comp) before it is finalized, Capital reported. Approval of the sale of assets would then allow the merger of Andromeda, Selonda, and Nireus to proceed.