Statt Torsk follows through with merger agreement with Vesterålen Havbruk
Statt Torsk has officially agreed to merge with Vesterålen Havbruk, roughly one month after it announced it was pursuing a business transaction.
In a posting to the Oslo Børs, the Stokkeneset, Norway-based cod-farming company announced it entered into a transaction agreement for a “business combination” between it and Vesterålen Havbruk. The result of the merger will be the transfer of all of Statt Torks’s assets, rights, and obligations to a wholly owned subsidiary of Vesterålen Havbruk. Consideration shares in the merger will be issued by the latter company, based on an equity value for Statt Torsk of NOK 255 million (USD 23.7 million, EUR 22.2 million) and a value for Vesterålen Havbruk of NOK 610 million (USD 56.7 million, EUR 53 million).
Vesterålen Havbruk was established in 2012 in Myre, Norway, and the company now owns cod farming sites and several sea-based faciltiies for live fish storage in the region. It is also has "several active applications" for farming cod in Nordland and Troms counties in Norway.
“We are extremely pleased with this contemplated transaction,” Statt Torsk CEO Gustave Brun-Lie said. “It solves our imminent needs of cash reflecting the true values of our companies in the current market, but most of all it is a strategic move of consolidation of our young industry. A business combination with Vesterålen Havbruk is our preferred option to optimize shareholder value.”
Statt Torsk announced a strategic review in August after what Brun-Lie called a “disappointing” first quarter in 2023. Its review recommended the pursuit of a business partnership, and within days of its release, Vesterålen Havbruk sent a letter of intent regarding a potential merger.
In its H1 2023 report, Vesterålen Havbruk said the merger with Statt Torsk will solve a “number of disorganizations” in the region regarding the handling of biomass. The company said its existing companies have been requesting additional volumes of processed products, and the added biomass from Statt Torsk will help it meet those requests.
“Joining forces with Statt Torsk will give the new entity flexibility to deliver cod to market year around in the future, combining harvest from sites in north and south [Norway],” Vesterålen Havbruk CEO Brynjar Kværnstuen said in a release.
According to the company’s H1 report, the timing of harvests is different between the two company’s Norwegian farming sites, with Statt Torsk’s more southerly sites compensating for Vesterålen Havbruk’s northern sites.
“In the coldest winter months, it is better not to slaughter fish in the north, and for large parts of the summer, it is better not to slaughter fish in the south,” the company said.
Vesterålen Havbruk said it plans to focus on adding value to its harvested cod, as while most farmed cod is sold “almost exclusively” as whole fresh fish, the market for the product is lower than products with higher degrees of processing.
“With decreasing quotas on wild cod in the coming years, the timing for scaling farmed cod has never been better,” Kværnstuen said. “Together we will work for a better ratio between harvesting size, higher volumes, and shorter harvesting times. This will reduce the overall production cost in the future.”
Photo courtesy of Statt Torsk