High-profile investor and former top broker Anders Onarheim lashed out at state officials and, in particular, Trade Minister Trond Giske, on Monday over their involvement in the recent drama around salmon- and fish-feed producer Cermaq. The state-controlled company’s stock dove after Cermaq’s initial suitor, Marine Harvest, withdrew its bid citing a lack of interest in it.
Onarheim compared the state’s involvement in Cermaq’s efforts to “maximize the company’s values” to what he called “market manipulation.” He thinks the state now should make an offer to take over all the stock that it doesn’t already own. The state has signaled that it may boost its stake in Cermaq from 43.5 percent to 65 percent.
Cermaq management’s efforts to “maximize values” appeared to backfire when Marine Harvest dropped its bid Friday and the stock dove 8.9 percent, to NOK 102.50 per share, where it remained on Monday. Last Monday another suitor offered to take over Cermaq’s fish-feed division and it now appears the company will be split up, with Marine Harvest also signaling interest in making an offer for parts of it.
Giske rejected the criticism from Onarheim, who once served as an adviser for Marine Harvest’s owner John Fredriksen and whose father sits on Marine Harvest’s board. Cermaq’s management also defended the involvement of its biggest single shareholder, claiming the state acted professionally. Cermaq’s stock, meanwhile, remained in play.