Months of takeover drama around the Norwegian salmon- and fish-feed producer Cermaq ended last week with the state boosting its already substantial stake to nearly 60 percent. State officials were the targets of criticism over how they handled the ownership struggle.
Trade Minister Trond Giske, harshly criticized for what one investor called “market manipulation,” denied he had tricked other Cermaq shareholders. After rejecting an offer from Norway’s biggest salmon producer, Marine Harvest, on the grounds it was too low, Giske ended up approving an offer from the state for just one krone more per share than Marine Harvest had offered. Giske then allowed the state to invest another NOK 1.6 billion in Cermaq, boosting its stake from 44 percent to nearly 60 percent.
That brought at least a temporary end to the power struggle with Marine Harvest, whose executives later told newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) that they were “very glad that we’re finished with Cermaq.” Giske claimed the state had acted “responsibly and predictably,” calling its bid of NOK 108 per share “a good price” that was “considerably higher” than what the shares had been trading for on the Oslo Stock Exchange after Marine Harvest withdrew its offer.
Not everyone took the state’s offer, though, including the state pension fund and Pareto, the latter saying that its officials feel Cermaq is worth more.