Clearwater Seafoods sold to Premium Brands Holdings, Mi’kmaq First Nations

Clearwater Seafoods Incorporated has announced it is to be sold to Premium Brands Holdings Corporation and a Mi’kmaq First Nations Coalition in a transaction valued at roughly CAD 1 billion (USD 768 million, EUR 650 million).

The purchase adds to Premium Brands’ growing list of seafood company acquisitions. The company has been leading an effort to consolidate the North American lobster sector, acquiring Maine Coast, Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co., Viandex, and North Delta Seafood within the past year and Ready Seafood in 2018.

"Clearwater is a world-class seafood company with a great management team, best-in-class products and a globally respected brand. Premium Brands will use its value-add expertise, brand development capabilities, and extensive customer relationships to continue to grow this leading global seafood company," Premium Brands President and CEO George Paleologou said in a release announcing the purchase. "We are proud to partner with the Mi'kmaq First Nations communities in this unique opportunity to enhance First Nations' participation in commercial fisheries at the same time building the seafood portfolio within the Premium Brand ecosystem."

Also participating in the purchase is FNC Holdings, a legal entity formed specifically for the first nations to invest in Clearwater. Founded by the Membertou and Miawpukek First Nation, the investment represents the single largest investment in the seafood industry by any indigenous group in Canada.

"This is a transformational opportunity for the Mi'kmaq to become significant participants in the commercial fishery through the investment in existing infrastructure, management expertise, and a global market presence." Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul said. "Mi'kmaq not only become 50 percent owners of the company but expect to hold Clearwater's Canadian fishing licenses within a fully Mi'kmaq-owned partnership.”

The purchase, a release by Clearwater and Premium Brands said, represents a “transformational” change for both the companies and First Nation communities in Canada, according to Paul, "catapulting First Nations into a leading global position in the seafood industry with the largest holdings of shellfish licences and quotas in Canadian fisheries."

Clearwater first announced that it was considering the sale of the company on 5 March. At the time, the company said it was “in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders to commence the strategic review in light of the company having recently received several expressions of interest.”

Clearwater Board Chair Colin MacDonald said the company’s shareholders will receive CAD 8.25 (USD 6.33, EUR 5.36) per Clearwater common share if the transaction is completed by 29 January, 2021. That number will increase to CAD 8.30 (USD 6.37, EUR 5.39) if the transaction closes after 29 January but before 30 April, and will increase again to CAD 8.35 (USD 6.41, EUR 5.43) if the transaction closes after 30 April but before 30 June.

"I am very pleased to recommend this transaction. It represents great value for shareholders, leverages the expertise within the company while advancing Reconciliation in Canada," MacDonald said. "I am confident that this transaction will enhance the culture of diversity and sustainable seafood excellence that exists at Clearwater."

The purchase comes on the heels of Premium Brands announcing its Q3 results, which had the company posting a record revenue of CAD 1.1 billion (USD 844 million, EUR 715 million). The company announced in August that it was planning to resume its acquisition strategy, which started with its acquisition of Global Gourmet Foods and Allseas Fisheries later that month.

"We are very excited about working with Premium Brands and the Participating Communities to continue to grow and strengthen our business while preserving our culture and community presence," Clearwater President and CEO Ian Smith said. "Furthermore, this partnership ideally positions us to continue building on the legacy created by Clearwater's founders Colin MacDonald and John Risley.”  


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