Norwegian Trade Minister Trond Giske claims he’s trying to avert a lengthy battle over ownership of salmon- and fish-feed producer Cermaq, in which the state has a 44 percent stake and ranks as Cermaq’s largest single owner by far. Giske made moves this week that will allow the state to either sell off or buy more shares in Cermaq, which is the target of a takeover bid from rival fish-farming firm Marine Harvest.
While controversy continues to rage over fish-farming in general and farmed salmon in particular, the government trade minister has firmly involved himself in the fate of Cermaq, which attracted the takeover bid from Marine Harvest earlier this spring that Giske and Cermaq’s board thinks is too low. Giske now wants to be able to either raise the state’s own stake in Cermaq to 65 percent or sell off entirely, whichever would “take the best care of the values” in the company.
Marine Harvest, controlled by shipping tycoon John Fredriksen, would consolidate its position as the world’s biggest salmon producer with a purchase of Cermaq. Giske, however, doesn’t want to sell off Cermaq cheaply nor does he want the company to be subject to long-term uncertainty around its ownership. One possibility is to split the company into two, one for its fish-farming portion (called Mainstream) and one for its feed production (EWOS). Cermaq’s board also supports potential sale of portions of the company, to “maximize values.”
Marine Harvest’s latest bid of NOK 107 per share expires June 21. The company had bid NOK 112 if it got the board’s support, and may raise it further now that the stock is more than ever in play.