Reunion government floats participation in Sapmer takeover

A Sapmer fishing vessel
A Sapmer fishing vessel | Photo courtesy of Sapmer
4 Min

The government of the French territory of Reunion Island, which is in the Indian Ocean near Madagascar, is considering investing EUR 5 million (USD 5.4 million) into Sapmer, the territory’s largest fishing firm.

In February 2024, Reunion-based Cana Tera announced it was leading a EUR 20 million (USD 21.6 million) rescue of the company from potential insolvency. Prior to the investment, due to financial difficulties, Sapmer sold its four Mauritius-flagged tuna-fishing vessels and was looking to divest from its Reunion fleet.

Under an investment plan finalized in April, Sapmer – which is listed publicly on the Euronext Stock Exchange – plans to issue 1.9 million new shares, diluting its existing shares by 36 percent. As part of the plan, Cana Tera Owner Jacques de Chateauvieux pledged to contribute EUR 5 million in new share purchases, and 55 private local investors pledged EUR 10 million (USD 10.8 million). The island’s government has expressed a willingness to step in with the final EUR 5 million needed to complete the transaction but is facing pushback from rival fishing companies, according to Reunion news site Clicanoo.

Sapmer controls around half of France’s 6,000-metric-ton toothfish quota, and the four other French quota-holders have protested the government’s proposed financial commitment, claiming it gives Sapmer an unfair advantage and would distort competition, Clicanoo reported.

Sapmer posted sales of EUR 145.5 million (USD 157.3 million) and a net loss of EUR 31 million in 2023, according to its 2023 financial report, released 30 April. Its toothfish catch accounted for EUR 60 million (EUR 33.5 million) in sales, while its tuna business brought in EUR 73 million (USD 78.9 million) and its lobster fishing accounted for EUR 9 million (USD 9.7 million) in sales.

“The markets remained good throughout 2023, but the euro-dollar parity, inflation on costs, and less-favorable fishing conditions during the second half affected profitability, which remains satisfactory,” it said. “The 2023 accounts were mainly marked by the operational and accounting losses, which follow the sudden drop in tuna quotas allocated by the Mauritian authorities as well as new, unprecedented regulatory constraints which have weighed heavily on fishing performance of the three tuna boats under the Mauritian flag and led to their sale at values significantly lower than their net book value.”

Sapmer said without the losses related to the now-sold Mauritian tuna fleet, it would have posted a positive net income of EUR 5 million, in line with its 2022 total. It said its debt has been reduced by 40 percent, and its portfolio of activities – under a fully French-flagged fleet – are poised to remain profitable into the future, primarily due to its toothfish operation.

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