‘If there is another way to fire the CEO of a publicly traded company against their will, I would love to get the secret.’

Editorial Staff

New book tells the story of Mowi.

Published this week, Goldfinger – The Story of Mowi features firsthand accounts from insiders such as Atle Eide, Ole-Eirik Lerøy, Tor Olav Trøim, Åse Aulie Michelet, Steve Bracken, Alf-Helge Aarskog, Ivan Vindheim, Magne Bjørnerem, and Marit Solberg, who share their experiences working with the salmon industry giant.

The book also dedicates considerable attention to major shareholder John Fredriksen, detailing his manoeuvres, notably his tussle with top executives at Nutreco and Stolt-Nielsen during the billion-dollar acquisition of Marine Harvest. Authored by Aslak Berge, editor of iLaks and founder of SalmonBusiness, the book offers an in-depth look at the major events and personalities that have shaped Mowi’s history.

Marine Harvest’s cradle: Inverailort Castle. Photo: Aslak Berge

Two threads

Mowi (and the world’s salmon industry) did not start with net pens but with a semi-closed facility, first in Mathopen, outside Bergen, and then then on the island of Sotra, just west of the city. When the first fish was to be harvested and sold, Mowi collaborated with Lerøy. Lerøy would later attempt to buy Mowi.

The story follows two main threads: Norwegian Mowi and Scottish Marine Harvest. Both were established in the 1960s by large industrial conglomerates – Norsk Hydro and Unilever.

Marine Harvest initiated its first foreign venture in the spring of 1987. With two containers of aquaculture equipment and a bag containing $2.5 million. The chosen country was the dictatorship of Chile. When Marine Harvest opened its own fish feed factory, none other than General Augusto Pinochet, clad in a brown field uniform for the occasion, came to open it. The venture in Chile would turn out to be a gold mine, but it would also face some tremendous downturns.

This is where it all began: Aslak Berge at Mowi Flogøy. Photo: Tina Totland Jenssen
  • How multi-billion dollar funds in Abu Dhabi and Singapore have come close to acquiring John Fredriksen’s stake in Mowi.
  • The story of how Mowi’s only female top executive, Åse Aulie Michelet, was fired.
  • When Ole-Eirik Lerøy quit his job and sold out of Lerøy, he gathered his three closest colleagues for dinner and laid out the plans to take over competitor Marine Harvest. He himself became chairman of the board, while two of the three dinner guests were to become CEOs of Marine Harvest/Mowi.
  • How Kjell Inge Røkke tried to acquire Mowi Central.
  • Why Mowi canceled the multibillion-dollar sale of its feed division.

Engine of the industry

The aquaculture company was founded on the sweat and pioneering work of Scottish and Norwegian pioneers. Big capital paired with entrepreneurship. Built up to become the undisputed engine of the salmon farming industry. The story of Mowi is paved with faith and hope, but also disappointments, betrayals, and greed.

It is the sum of numerous risky bets, often working with central authorities as the counterpart. The narrative of Mowi’s rise and development is a journey through the history of salmon farming.

Goldfinger – The Story of Mowi, published by Octavian Forlag, is released in Norway this week. The book is expected to be available in English later this year.

Photo: Mowi

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