Investing in land-based fish farming: Witzøe takes stake in Columbi

Aslak Berge

Capital injection of €15.7m for Columbi Salmon with Ferd, the Refsnes family and Kverva Finans all joining in.

The investment round was conducted in the third quarter. In addition to the Ferd and Refsnes family, Gustav Witzøe’s investment company Kverva participated in the issue. This reinforces the collaboration between the Witzøe and Refsnes families following SalMar’s €64 million purchase of 45 per cent of the shares in Refsnes Laks. The Refsnes family is the largest shareholder in Columbi Salmon after the issue, with an ownership stake of 43 per cent. In total, the company has raised NOK 482 million (€46.9 million) over the past nine months.

“We are very proud to have some of the world’s leading private aquaculture investors onside. The Refsnes family’s 103-year-old industrial experience has been crucial in the start-up phase. The capital raising takes us an important step further on the road to realizing our first plant in Belgium. The facility and the associated local ecosystem will position Columbi Salmon as the EU’s most sustainable aquaculture company,” said Anders Hagen, CEO of Columbi Salmon, in a press release. 

Large-scale facilities in Belgium
Columbi Salmon’s ambition is to become Europe’s leading “sustainable salmon farmer on land”, and initially the company is building a plant in Ostend, Belgium with a capacity of 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes of salmon per year. In addition to fish, the plant will produce vegetables and lettuce based on waste from fish production.

“We are in full swing with the development of the facility in Ostend, which will be the world’s most advanced, safe and sustainable. Our driving force is to build both more efficiently and sustainably than anyone has seen before, so that production is profitable, the footprint is low and fish welfare is good,” said Hagen.

The resort is just over an hour’s drive from Boulogne-sur-Mer in France, the epicentre of seafood in Europe. From there it is possible to reach large parts of the total market for salmon in Europe in a short time. The fact that salmon has a short way to travel to consumers is one of the main reasons why the first plant is being built in Belgium.

Aiming for the stock exchange
Columbi Salmon aims to get the company’s shares listed on a suitable marketplace and to establish more facilities in Europe.

“We have communicated all the way that we envisage a stock exchange listing in the long term. However, we are not in a hurry, and with this capital raising we will be on the right track towards realizing the plant in Belgium. Quality is important in everything we do, so we go slowly,” said Hagen.


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