Cooke enters agreement with Abanca to negotiate purchase of 80 percent stake in Nueva Pescanova

A Nueva Pescanova facility.

Betanzos, Spain-based bank Abanca entered an agreement to negotiate the sale of an 80 percent stake in Nueva Pescanova to Canadian seafood conglomerate Cooke Inc.

The exclusivity agreement, signed on Thursday, 13 April, places the valuation of the Vigo, Spain-based vertically integrated seafood firm at EUR 800 million (USD 884 million). The agreement requires Pescanova to continue to be headquartered in Vigo.

“Over the upcoming weeks, the parties will advance the customary negotiation process with the objective of reaching an agreement for the acquisition of a majority position in Nueva Pescanova by one of the world’s largest family-owned seafood companies,” Abanca said in a statement. “Abanca will continue to support Nueva Pescanova in the development of its strategic initiatives through its remaining equity stake and its ongoing commitment as financing partner of the global company.”

Abanca currently owns nearly 98 percent of Nueva Pescanova but has faced pressure from banking regulators to sell.  Cooke was competing against U.S. seafood company Red Chamber and Platinum Capital, the U.S.-based fund that owns Spanish seafood firm Iberconsa. Iberconsa had been favored in the bidding because it is based in Galicia and would keep Pescanova’s ownership local, which Abanca had insisted upon as part of any deal.

“The agreement signifies a new milestone in the process and crystallizes the commitment established by Abanca of incorporating a prestigious industrial partner to boost the growth of Nueva Pescanova’s operations and to generate new investment in Galicia,” Abanca said.

“Since 2015, we have made a considerable effort to safeguard the viability of the company and keep the integration of the group and its subsidiaries, while maintaining its headquarters in Galicia,” Abanca Chairman Juan Carlos Escotet Rodríguez said. “The agreement that we have reached allows for the achievement of a new milestone in Abanca’s roadmap and the integration of Nueva Pescanova into one of the leading family-owned seafood companies in the world.”

Cooke’s offer for the stake is in the range of EUR 150 million (USD 165 million), plus the assumption of EUR 500 million (USD 552 million) in liabilities, according to El Confidencial. Abanca had been asking for EUR 200 million (USD 221 million) and Cooke had originally offered EUR 100 million (USD 110 million). To sweeten the deal, Abanca has offered a flexible financing structure and a loan of up to EUR 250 million (USD 271.1 million)

Cooke Inc., based in New Brunswick, Canada, has become one of the world’s largest seafood companies through an aggressive acquisition strategy. In the past year alone, it has purchased Australia-based salmon aquaculture firm Tassal in August 2022, Belgian shrimp processor Morubel in August 2022, and U.S. seafood distributor Slade Gorton in March 2023.

“The selection of Cooke Inc. as an industrial partner concludes a rigorous three-year analysis of the top companies in the sector worldwide. Through this process, Abanca recognized the value of Cooke’s significant operating capacity, which will reinforce stability, strengthen growth, and develop talent in the Galician [seafood] product company,” Abanca said. “Additional differentiating factors included Cooke’s unique experience completing corporate integration processes, vertical integration, and its history as a family-owned company. The entry of Cooke has the objective of fulfilling Nueva Pescanova’s full potential in sourcing, industrial processes, and commercial activities.”

Cooke Public Relations Director Claire Ryan told SeafoodSource Cooke is not offering additional comment at this time beyond a one-sentence public statement.

“Over the upcoming weeks, Cooke Inc. and Abanca will advance the negotiation process with the objective of reaching an agreement for the acquisition of a majority position in Nueva Pescanova,” it said.

Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons


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