Nova Austral taps new CEO, bolsters administration

Chilean salmon farmer Nova Austral has appointed Nicolás Larco as the CEO of the company, who will also maintain his responsibilities as chief financial officer until further notice, the firm announced.

Nova Austral has also brought in two seasoned executives to reinforce its administrative structure. Ricardo Ferrari, former mergers, acquisitions, and investments associate manager at Chilean retail giant Cencosud, was hired as director of business development. He will also oversee corporate finance-related projects.

At the same time, Anton Felmer, who had worked for eight years seeking investment opportunities in aquaculture in Chile and the rest of Latin America for AquaChile, was hired on an interim basis as senior vice president of operations, where he will focus on sales and marketing as well as selected operational initiatives.

The company expressed its continued support to former COO Francisco Miranda in “hopes that he will soon rejoin the company.” Miranda sustained a serious head injury in an October 2019 horse-riding accident.

“The board continues to believe in the underlying fundamentals that differentiate Nova Austral, and remains committed to making improvements to build long-term value and reinforce Nova Austral’s role as a leader and pioneer in the Chilean salmon farming sector and the southern zone of Chile,” according to the statement.

The company fired then-CEO Nicos Nicolaides in July last year over “irregularities” in the information provided to Chile’s fisheries and aquaculture regulator Sernapesca. The watchdog had filed three complaints against Nova Austral for knowingly misleading authorities through false reporting of mortality figures, and Chile’s Sub-Secretary of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Subpesca) cut Nova Austral’s production permits in response.

In March this year, while reporting a USD 4.6 million (EUR 4.1 million) loss in the fourth quarter of 2019, the company said it was looking to “put last year’s events behind us, [and] the focus going forward will be to steer the company through its pending legal and regulatory matters.”

At end-March, Nova Austral reported that while it was “working tirelessly to contain the effects of the global crisis of COVID-19, intending to maintain the company’s operations and protect the health of its employees in this uncertain and unprecedented time,” its processing plant and hatchery in Porvenir, as well as the farming sites at sea, were operating normally and product was being shipped to its main markets in Europe, Russia, and the U.S.

While it had noted lower demand in the food services segment, the company had seen increased activity in the retail segment, it said.

Nova Austral is owned by the equity funds Altor Fund III and Bain Capital. Its entire operations are in the Magallanes and Antarctic regions, employing some 800 people directly.  

Photo courtesy of Nova Austral


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