Land-based salmon producer announces new CEO

Editorial Staff

Land-based salmon producer AquaBounty has appointed David F. Melbourne Jr. to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer, effective immediately. 

This move is part of the company’s long-term succession plan, initiated with Melbourne’s promotion from Chief Commercial Officer to President in August 2023. Over the past year, Melbourne has managed day-to-day business functions and played a key role in the shutdown of AquaBounty’s Indiana farm, according to a press release from the company on Friday.

Sylvia Wulf, the outgoing CEO who will continue as non-executive Board Chair, praised Melbourne’s leadership and contributions. Melbourne’s new responsibilities will include leading financing efforts, strategic initiatives, and investor relations to support AquaBounty’s growth plans.

Melbourne expressed his commitment to stabilizing the company’s finances and achieving long-term growth. He highlighted AquaBounty’s progress over the past five years in vertical integration, operational expertise, breeding, genetics, and market expansion in the U.S. and Canada.

Interesting times

In April, the company announced it had secured a short-term loan of up to $10 million from JMB Capital Partners Lenders, based in Los Angeles.

The loan is structured in two tranches, with the initial $5 million immediately accessible and an option for an additional $5 million. The move is aimed at enhancing the company’s working capital and consolidating existing debts.

The loan, which carries a 15% interest rate, is secured by collateral that includes AquaBounty’s operational recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) facility in Indiana, and its under-construction Ohio RAS facility. The loan agreement is set to mature on July 31, 2024, or earlier under certain conditions such as the sale of specified collateral or an event of default.

Documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission reveal that approximately $2,843,000 of the loan will be utilized by AquaBounty to buy out a Loan and Security Agreement previously established with First Farmers Bank & Trust as of July 31, 2020. In line with this agreement, the mortgage on AquaBounty’s Albany farm held by First Farmers will be reassigned to JMB.

This move comes after AquaBounty announced its intention to sell its Albany farm to raise funds. The Albany facility has a capacity of 1,200 tons per year.

“Faced with these challenges, we began exploring a range of financing alternatives to strengthen our balance sheet and increase our cash runway. We announced in February 2024 that we had made the decision to sell our Indiana farm operation in order to increase our cash position and to decrease our ongoing cash burn,” said Wulf at the time.

The construction of AquaBounty’s new 10,000-ton RAS facility in Ohio is currently on hold due to escalating costs, which have soared to between $485 million and $495 million.


Related Articles