Let's make a deal

By

Steven Hedlund

Published on
January 10, 2008

The seafood trade received big news out of Britain this week, and it's not Victoria Beckham's addiction to fish sticks. CapVest, a London-based private equity firm, will merge its two seafood entities, Young's Seafood and Findus, creating one of Europe's largest seafood companies, with annual revenue of $2.1 billion (£1.1 billion). Is the Young's-Findus deal a sign the seafood industry will be teeming with mergers and acquisitions not only in Europe, but also in the United States in 2008?

CapVest acquired Young's in 2002 and Findus in 2006, but until now the companies operated separately - Young's in the United Kingdom and Findus in France and Scandinavia. Now the firms will combine their purchasing and marketing efforts under one entity, the Foodvest Group.

Per Harkjaer, Foodvest's new CEO, attributed the merger to continuing inflation, rising raw-material costs and consumer expectations, among other factors, in a Jan. 9 press release.

U.S. seafood companies are under the same market pressures as their European counterparts. Coupled with a financial market that remains ripe for consolidation, expect to see a handful of mergers and acquisitions this year.

''Based on the work we've done and the conversations we've had in the [seafood] industry, we'll see a lot more [mergers and acquisitions] going forward,'' says Matt Hill, director of Seattle-based KeyBanc Capital Markets, a division of KeyCorp. (For more information on seafood-industry mergers and acquisitions, read the Processing Services feature in the upcoming February issue of SeaFood Business.)

Last year was a relatively quiet year on the merger-and-acquisition front. But 2008 could well be a different story.

Best regards,
Steven Hedlund
Associate Editor
SeaFood Business

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