Cooke negotiating purchase of majority stake in Nueva Pescanova, Spanish newspaper reports

Pescanova's Chapela factory.

Cooke Inc. is in negotiations to buy a majority stake in Nueva Pescanova, a vertically integrated seafood company headquartered in Redondela, Pontevedra, Spain, according to Spanish newspaper Faro de Vigo.

Nueva Pescanova has a presence in 17 countries on five continents and sells its seafood products in more than 80 countries globally. It operates more than 60 fishing vessels and has aquaculture operations in Spain, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Ecuador. Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada-based Cooke is also vertically integrated, and has operations in 10 countries. According to anonymous sources cited by Faro de Vigo, negotiations for Cooke to take a majority shareholding in Nueva Pescanova are “very advanced.”

Nueva Pescanova “is looking for a stable industrial partner and greater volume with the aim of cementing its profitability,” according to the newspaper, Cooke “wishes to increase its processing capacity on European soil, in addition to further diversifying its offerings and markets.”

The selling party is Galician bank Abanca, which upped its ownership share in Nueva Pescanova to 80.46 percent stake in March 2020 and now owns approximately 98 percent of the company’s shares following a EUR 70 million (USD 74 million) capital injection in January 2023, having begun investing in the company in 2017 with a 5.5 percent stake.

Abanca CEO Juan Carlos Escotet previously stated his intention to consolidate ownership in Nueva Pescanova and then sell a majority stake to a partner in the seafood industry, according to Voz Populi. Nueva Pescanova has cost the bank millions in losses, with its total liabilities amounting to more than EUR 450 million (USD 477 million), according to Hispanidad, though its financial situation improved in the company’s most-recent fiscal year, ending March 2022, with profits of EUR 7 million (USD 7.4 million) and EBITDA of EUR 80 million (USD 84 million) on turnover of EUR 1.087 billion (USD 1.1 billion). Escotet is facing pressure from the European Central Bank, which discourages the banks it regulates from long-term ownership in industrial holdings, Hispanidad reported.

Talks with Cooke have advanced despite Nueva Pescanova’s inability to close its acquisition of Mar del Plata, Argentina-headquartered Grupo Veraz, which operates several fishing vessels and processing plants. The transaction fell apart due to due to differences in valuation of the company partially caused by rapidly fluctuating exchange rates and fast-rising inflation, according to La Voz de Galicia.

Cooke’s interest in Nueva Pescanova continues its streak of acquisitive activity, following its purchase of Australia-based salmon aquaculture firm Tassal in August 2022 and its purchase of Belgian shrimp-processor Morubel in August 2022.

A spokesperson for Cooke declined comment and a spokesperson for Nueva Pescanova did not immediately respond to a request from SeafoodSource for comment.

Photo courtesy of Nueva Pescanova


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