American Aquafarms founder back in court for defaulting on million-dollar loan

Aslak Berge

After the industrial entrepreneur Bjørn M. Apeland sold the equipment supplier Steinsvik to Kverva, who incorporated this into ScaleAQ, he became a very wealthy man. With the money, he bought, among other things, a Sunseeker 66 cabin cruiser – and 20-percent share in the cod farming company Blue Future.

Blue Future was then owned by Mikael Rønes (or Roenes, as he spells it in his LinkedIn profile), who is also the founder of American Aquafarms, which hoped to produce salmon in floating semi-closed containment systems in the waters of Maine.

Rønes also had a criminal past. In 2008, he was sentenced to four years in prison for defrauding investors in Norway.

Precisely the criminal background is brought to the fore in the ongoing dispute with Apeland. The latter believes that Rønes has breached an agreement to buy back Apeland’s 20-percent stake in Blue Future. According to DN, Apeland has received a ruling in the Agder District Court to freeze assets in Rønes’ company Global for NOK 13.7 million ($1.3 million).

Rønes has a net worth of NOK 68 million ($6.3 million), primarily from the development and sale of the cod farming company Norcod. He owns, among other things, an apartment on Tjuvholmen in Oslo and another apartment on Hovden. The latter apartment is currently for sale on, with an asking price of NOK 15.9 million ($1.5 million).


American Aquafarms has scrapped its original plans in Maine after local authorities rejected applications for the planned salmon farm. Rønes suffered liquidity problems as a result of the investment in American Aquafarms, but he said this is a temporary setback.

“In the refinancing process that we have been in, and are still in, it is the balance that makes us able to get a good platform to buy out Apeland and pay off debt, as well as ensure development of the project going forward,” says Rønes to DN.


Related Articles