Huon CEO Bender launches robust defence in response to Andrew Forrest’s demands of improved welfare ahead of JBS takeover

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Forrest now holds second largest stake in the Tasmanian salmon farming group valued at A$550 million by JBS.

A spat has broken out following news that Australian billionaire, Andrew Forrest has increased his stake in Huon Aquaculture in the midst of a A$550 million (US$405m) attempted takeover of the Tasmanian salmon farming group by Brazilian meat giant JBS.

While Dr Forrest is best known as chairman of iron ore giant Fortescue Metals, he has extensive interests through his private investment group, Tattarang. According to the Australian Financial Review, the investment group has now built an 18.5 per cent stake in Huon.

The stake makes Tattarang the second-largest shareholder in Huon behind JBS, which now holds a 40.53 per cent stake, acquired from founders Peter and Frances Bender this week. Forrest could use his shares to vote in favour of or against any takeover proposal.

Forrest, who has a PhD in marine biology, has written to both JBS and Huon demanding they commit to higher farming and environmental standards.

In a video statement issued via Tattarang, Forrest announced he had increased his (already substantial) shareholding in Huon Aquaculture Group as part of his commitment to supporting the ongoing and sustainable growth of Australia’s aquaculture industry.

Forrest’s statement
“Our investment in Huon represents a clear commitment to achieve the industry change we want to see,” Dr Forrest said.

“Huon have demonstrated they want to be leaders in the pursuit of sustainable salmon farming practices but my aspirations for this company are even greater. And there are a range of steps that can be taken by new ownership to achieve this. They include the replacement of fish in fishmeal, moving to completely carbon neutral production and applying leading animal welfare standards and practices.”

Watch the full statement here:

Responding to Forrest’s claims, Huon Aquaculture’s CEO, Peter Bender, said today:

“Huon agrees with Mr Forrest that business operations must not compromise the environment.

“If Mr Forrest had bothered to check with me, he would know that our stocking density of maximum 1% fish to 99% water is the best in the world across the global salmon farming industry.

“Huon does not believe there is any higher animal husbandry goal to achieve than RSPCA certification, and we call upon Mr Forrest to outline which program he believes is better than RSPCA certification.

“Mr Forrest can rest assured that every Huon fish is grown and harvested under the principles of “no pain no fear”; indeed it was this company that led the salmon farming world in these harvest principles.

“Like terrestrial farmers, we are stewards of our farms and stock and that is paramount to the decision making behind all our business practices”.


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