By Stephen Treloar (Bloomberg) —
Billionaire Kjell Inge Rokke’s Aker ASA and SalMar ASA will create an offshore fish farming company to open new waters for producing salmon.
Aker will contribute as much as 1.65 billion kroner ($190 million) in cash in three tranches to SalMar Aker Ocean, which will comprise SalMar’s interests in its semi-offshore and offshore farming operations, the companies said in a statement on Thursday. SalMar will eventually own 66.6% of the joint company, while Aker will own 33.4% through Aker Capital AS.
Salmon farmers in Norway, the biggest producer of the red-fleshed fish, traditionally are limited to licensed areas in the fjords and close to the coastline. The development of farms in the open ocean will enable an expansion of production to new areas as demand for sustainable protein food sources grows.
The partnership comes as SalMar is involved in a takeover battle with aquaculture group NTS ASA for Norway Royal Salmon ASA. SalMar’s cash offer values the target at about 11.8 billion kroner.
Read about SalMar’s offer for Norway Royal Salmon
Rokke started out as a fisherman to build a roughly $4.7 billion fortune in Norway’s offshore industry. Aker’s 40% stake in oil producer Aker BP ASA, where BP Plc owns 30%, still makes up more than half of the holding company’s value.
“We like the combination of Aker’s experience within offshore operations and SalMar’s farming experience, and we believe the partnership should strengthen the prospects for successful growth in offshore farming,” Handelsbanken analyst Kjetil Lye wrote in a note.
Aker’s stock was up 0.2% as of 11:49 a.m. in Oslo, while SalMar fell 2.3% after reporting a second-quarter operating result that missed analyst estimates.
SalMar Aker Ocean will continue the work of researching and developing offshore farming operations, including through the world’s first operating offshore fish farm, Ocean Farm 1, which has produced 10,000 tonnes (11,000 tons) of salmon over two production cycles. Olav Andreas Ervik will head the company as CEO.
The establishment of the joint company is expected to close in first quarter 2022, with a listing of SalMar Aker Ocean on “a relevant stock exchange within one to two years’ time,” according to the statement.(Added background on Rokke in fifth, analyst comment in sixth paragraph, share move in seventh)
–With assistance from Jonas Cho Walsgard.
© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.
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