Lerøy Seafoods purchases EUR 200 million stake in Havfisk, Norway Seafoods
Lerøy Seafoods made a major play in the European whitefish sector Thursday, 2 June by acquiring a majority ownership of Havfisk and Norway Seafood Group.
The roughly EUR 200 million (USD 226 million) investment will give Lerøy 64.4 percent ownership of Havfisk, the largest trawler company in Norway, with 11 percent of the country’s whitefish quota, and a 73.6 percent ownership of Norway Seafoods, one of Europe’s largest whitefish processing, sales and distribution companies. The deal will give Lerøy an additional 100,000 metric tons of additional whitefish volume annually, increasing its yield by 40 percent.
“The downstream market for whitefish is considerably underdeveloped compared to salmon. The combined companies are ideally positioned to develop this market and by that increase the value of whitefish,” Lerøy said in an announcement. “In order to be able to take this position, ownership and access to the raw material is a key factor, and the more than 100,000 MT of whitefish that Havfisk and Norway Seafoods are adding to Lerøy is hence an attractive asset.”
Lerøy is buying the majority of Havfisk’s and Norway Seafoods’ shares from their previous primary shareholder, Aker Capital. The deal involves the sale of more than 53 million shares of Havfisk and 62 million shares in Norway Seafoods, at a per-share price of NOK 36.50 (EUR 3.94, USD 4.46) for Havfisk and NOK 1 (EUR 0.11, USD 0.12) for Norway Seafoods. The purchase triggers a mandatory offer for the remaining shares of both Havfisk and Norway Seafoods, and Lerøy said in its announcement it intends to bid for the remaining shares of Norway Seafoods at NOK 1 per share.
The transaction still must be approved by Norwegian and E.U. competition authorities, and Lerøy is contemplating aprivate issuances of 4 to 5 million new shares of its own stock (around 7.3 to 9.2 percent of its total share capital) and the sale of up to 300,000 of its own shares as part of the financing of the acquisitions, it said.
The purchase shows Lerøy’s confidence that it can use its market knowledge and product development experience significantly grow the demand for and value of whitefish, based on more efficient logistics and more product development in the whitefish market, according to the announcement.
“The most important trends in the global seafood market are product development for convenience, traceability, cost efficiency through the value chain, credibility and continuity in supply and quality. Getting ownership and access to more than 100,000 MT of whitefish puts Lerøy in a unique position to become a true “full fledge” supplier of fresh/refreshed seafood products” Lerøy CEO Henning Beltestad said.
European retailers are shifting their buying preferences to prefer suppliers who can supply a variety of species and products, Lerøy Board Chairman Helge Singelstad said in the release. With its Havfisk and Norway Seafoods purchase, Lerøy will become more fully integrated in both salmon and whitefish and be better positioned to offer retailers a “full palette” of seafood offerings.
“The combination of Lerøy, Havfisk and Norway Seafoods will fulfill Lerøy’s long-term strategic ambition to be a fully integrated seafood supplier not only in salmonids, but also within the important whitefish species. Being able to offer a secured delivery of red and whitefish is attractive to retailers and will put Lerøy in a unique position,” Singlestad said.