Cermaq gives up Copeinca bid

Norwegian seafood farmer Cermaq has voted to abandon its bid to buy a controlling interest in Copeinca, paving the way for China Fishery Group to acquire the Peruvian fishmeal and fish oil producer.

At its annual general meeting, a majority of Cermaq shareholders voted to pursue the acquisition, but not the two-thirds majority of shareholders required to proceed, according to a stock exchange announcement from Cermaq.

The vote came despite public statements beforehand from Cermaq’s board of directors and principal shareholders that the company would not give up its buyout bid. In a statement following the vote, Bard Mikkelsen, chairman of Cermaq's board of directors, noted a significant number of shareholders do have an interest in the acquisition, meaning the company should have some sort of relationship with Copeinca going forward.

"Today, Cermaq holds almost 20 percent of the shares in Copeinca, and the board will now evaluate alternative courses of action for Cermaq's further engagement in Copeinca," Mikkelsen wrote.

Cermaq first offered to buy Copeinca as a competing bid against China Fishery Group, which first made an unsolicited buyout offer for Copeinca back in February.

Cermaq’s counter-offer prompted China Fishery to up its bid, but then Cermaq rival Marine Harvest made a buyout bid for Cermaq itself, on the condition that Cermaq give up its offer for Copeinca.

Today’s announcement from Cermaq did not include a decision on whether to accept the Marine Harvest offer, but Marine Harvest issued its own announcement today, prior to the Cermaq vote, in which the company promised to sweeten the deal, provided Cermaq voted the Copeinca deal down.

“We could be prepared to improve both the price and composition of our offer in order to find an amicable solution acceptable to all parties,” Marine Harvest wrote in its statement.

In response, Mikkelsen only said, "The board will thoroughly assess potential higher offers which reflect the underlying values of the company and has a structure which aims to get a broad support from Cermaq's shareholders."


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