Tassal shareholders vote in favor of selling to Cooke

Published on
November 3, 2022
The sign outside of Cooke Aquaculture's headquarters.

Shareholders of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia-based salmon-farming firm Tassal have voted overwhelmingly in favor of selling the company to Cooke Aquaculture, according to a release posted on the Australian Stock Exchange on 3 November.

Tassal shareholders approved a scheme-implementation deed that was decided in August, under which Cooke – via a wholly-owned Australian subsidiary – will acquire all outstanding shares of Tassal for AUD 5.23 (USD 3.28, EUR 3.36) per share in cash. The price represented a premium of 49 percent on Tassal’s closing price on 22 June, 2022.

The scheme still remains subject to court approval, with a hearing on the purchase scheduled for 8 November, 2022. If approved the transaction will move forward on 21 November.

The shareholder approval finalizes a process Cooke began earlier this year when it purchased a nearly 5.4 percent stake in the company in June, a stake which the company expanded and eventually pushed to 10.49 percent in July.

A Cooke spokesperson told SeafoodSource that the company is not releasing any statements on the purchase at this time.

Tassal initially rejected multiple purchase offers from Cooke before the latter company finally raised its offer price from the initial AUD 4.67 (USD 2.93, EUR 3.01) to the final successful bid. Tassal's board of directors said that the previous offers didn’t reflect the company’s value, as it had “an attractive independent future” and that it was “well-positioned to deliver growth in shareholder value.”

Tassal’s FY 2022 results backed up the board’s claims. In August 2022, the company announced a 33 percent increase in revenue year-over-year to AUD 789 million (USD 552 million, EUR 544 million), and the company’s statutory earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) increased 36 percent year-over-year to AUD 163 million (USD 114 million, EUR 112 million).

Cooke's takeover also comes just months after Tassal was approved for a sustainability-linked loan worth AUD 497 million (USD 312 million, EUR 320 million). The loan, announced by the company in August 2022, will help the company increase its feed efficiency, reduce its emissions, and perform continuous improvement initiatives to “maintain Aquaculture Stewardship Council certification.” Currently, Tassal is the only Atlantic salmon farmer in Australia to have ASC certification.

“While Tassal has been committed to sustainability for many years, this is still a significant step for Tassal and a first for aquaculture in Australia,” Tassal Group Managing Director and CEO Mark Ryan said after the loan was announced. “Integrating our sustainability performance with our financing framework is an important step in our responsible business strategy, accelerating our work towards our ambitious sustainability targets.”

Recently, Tassal has faced protestors demanding the company stop using “explosive seal deterrents” at its Tasmania-based farms. A group of activists, including Neighbours of Fish Farming and consumer group SumOfUs, staged a protest outside of the meeting where the sale was approved and delivered a petition with 171,000 signatures asking Cooke to stop the practice.

“With today’s takeover bid rubber-stamped by Tassal shareholders, Cooke not only inherits Tassal’s operations, but also the longstanding controversy over its brutal treatment of protected fur seals,” SumOfUs Campaigner Nish Humphreys said. “Cooke’s first order of business as Tassal’s new owners must be resolving this scandal and ending the use of explosive seal deterrents.”  

Photo by Cliff White/SeafoodSource

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