Marine Harvest hooks rival’s boss

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Marine Harvest, the world’s largest salmon producer, has already found a new chief executive just weeks after firing the well-regarded Åse Aulie Michelet. The company hooked the new boss of competitor Lerøy Seafood.

Alf-Helge Aarskog, age 42, claims he was just as surprised as his board and colleagues at Lerøy when he suddenly got an offer just before Easter to take over the helm at Marine Harvest fromo October 1. For Aarskog, it means a chance to run a company more than twice as big as Lerøy, which is no small player in the seafood business itself.

Aarskog had only begun as CEO at Lerøy last fall, and Lerøy’s chairman had expected Aarskog to stay on “more than a few months.” Aarskog told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN), though, that he didn’t feel he was letting anyone at Lerøy down. “It’s a free job market,” he told DN. “When I got the opportunity, I thought (Marine Harvest) was an exciting company where I’d worked before and with lots of great people, like at Lerøy. The difference is that Marine Harvest is a bit more global. That was a challenge I wanted to take on.”

He’ll succeed Michelet, who had also said she was surprised when Marine Harvest’s board made it clear it wanted a new CEO. Marine Harvest’s biggest shareholder is shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, and the board reflects his interests.

Aarskog is from Rovde in Sunnmøre, has a master’s degree in aquaculture from Norway’s agricultural college in Ås and has studied at Harvard in Boston. He’s worked in the seafood industry for 23 years.

Aarskog will be succeeded at Lerøy by Henning Beltestad, at least on a temporary basis.

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