Cooke acquires Omega Protein for nearly USD 500 million

Cooke Aquaculture’s parent company has acquired Texas-based fish oil and fishmeal producer Omega Protein for nearly USD 500 million (EUR 428 million).

The agreement has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of each of Omega Protein and Cooke, according to a press release. Cooke Inc., based in New Brunswick, Canada, and Houston-headquartered Omega Protein agreed to a purchase price of USD 22.00 (EUR 18.81) per share for the publicly traded company. The transaction price represents a premium of 32.5 percent over Omega Protein’s closing share price of USD 16.60 (EUR 14.21) on 5 October, 2017. Shares of the company, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol OME, were up more than five percent in pre-market trading on Friday, 6 October.

The transaction, which is expected to close near the end of 2017 or early in 2018, according to Cooke, is subject to the approval of Omega Protein stockholders, certain regulatory approvals, and other customary closing conditions. 

“We are excited about the agreement, which we believe recognizes the value of Omega Protein’s successful, 100-year-old fishing business and also provides stockholders with an immediate premium,” Omega Protein President and CEO Bret Scholtes said. “Cooke is a family-owned company and in many ways, reminds us a lot of ourselves and this agreement is the perfect fit for the two companies. Cooke is a highly regarded and responsible leader in the global fishing and seafood industry.”

Omega Protein harvests menhaden and converts their oil and meal into products for human and animal nutrition. The company operates seven manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada, and Europe, and owns more than 30 fishing vessels.

For Cooke, which primarily focused on aquaculture until its purchase of Wanchese Fish Company in 2015 and Icicle Seafoods in 2016, the addition of Omega Protein “serves as a perfect strategic piece,” according to its press release.

“Omega Protein will provide us with another platform in Cooke’s growth strategy through further diversification in the supply side of the business,” Cooke CEO Glenn Cooke said. “We believe this will be a very good fit between our two cultures. Omega Protein has a 100-year history with an experienced and dedicated workforce, which we value, and a tradition of operating in small, coastal towns and communities that we share. Their focus on sustainable aquaculture and agriculture and the production of healthy food is also a great fit with our experience and culture.”

BMO Capital Markets is providing committed financing for the transaction and is serving as Cooke’s financial advisor, while Morgan Securities LLC is acting as Omega Protein’s financial advisor and provided a fairness opinion to its board of directors, according to the press release.


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