Merger of Cooke's, Ocean Beauty's Alaskan operations moves forward with BBEDC vote

Published on
May 15, 2020

Talks between Cooke Inc. and Ocean Beauty Seafoods to consolidate their operations in Alaska have advanced with the vote by the board of directors of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. to approve the outline of a deal.

The BBEDC, owns 50 percent of Seattle, Washington-based Ocean Beauty, which operates five processing facilities in Naknek, Alitak, Kodiak, Cordova, and Excursion Inlet.

“Conversations are taking place,” BBEDC President and CEO Norman Van Vactor told SeafoodSource. “I can confirm my board did ratify allowing conversations to proceed, and so those conversations are proceeding.  But it’s not a done deal – there’s things yet to happen.”

Van Vactor and several other sources confirmed current talks are focused on ways in which the two companies can combine their operations in Alaska. All said a deal – if it happens – is likely to occur soon, before the salmon season gets fully underway in Alaska. But nothing has been signed and the deal is not done, they said.

Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada-based Cooke operates in Alaska through Icicle Seafoods, which it purchased in 2016. It has five processing facilities in Alaska: its Wood River plant in Dillingham, Alaska, as well as facilities in Egegik, Larsen Bay, Seward, and Petersburg. It also operates the processing vessels Northern Victor, which is docked in Dutch Harbor, and the Gordon Jensen.

Van Vactor would not divulge the details of the BBEDC board’s vote or how much discussion preceded it.

“I don’t want to put my negotiating cards on the table,” he said.

Talks on a deal between Cooke and Ocean Beauty were in the works last year, but were put on hold as the salmon season picked up, sources confirmed.

Representatives of both companies declined to comment on the deal’s status or how the merger will be structured if it takes place.

Photo courtesy of Ocean Beauty Seafoods

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