Norway’s new tax, Tassal’s stronger share price could affect vote on Cooke’s takeover bid

It’s not over until it’s over. Tassal shareholders will vote on November 3 whether they will accept or reject Cooke Aquaculture’s takeover offer. Things are certainly looking different since the revised proposal was made in August.

Tassal’s current share price is catching up to Cooke’s proposed purchase price of A$5.23 per share. A$3.52 per share was the closing share price on 22 June 2022, and Cooke’s offer was A$5.23 which at the time represented a premium of 49 percent.

Tassal’s share price has gone up steadily since then, ending at A$5.19 on Thursday, narrowing down the premium of Cooke’s offer to just roughly 6 percent.

Tassal’s share price of A$5.19 on Thursday is 6 percent premium over Cooke’s offer.
Graphic: Reuters

There are other factors that shareholders will have to consider aside from the share price, for sure.

Norwegian suitors?
When SalmonBusiness last reported on the takeover bid, we noted that Tassal’s board was continuing to recommend shareholders vote in favour of the offer from Cooke “in the absence of a superior proposal.”

But on September 28, Norway announced a new 40-percent resource tax on salmon producers, which could change the game. The new tax, albeit not yet final, had salmon producers freezing over $1-billion investments in Norway. We don’t know what’s happening behind the scenes, but it won’t be a stretch to wonder if other suitors – from Norway – have come knocking on Tassal’s door.

An industry watcher concedes, though: “It will be very hard to replace the unique set of advantages that Norway has or has developed – sophisticated infrastructure, a predictable and progressive regulatory environment, good social license and access to one of the best global markets for salmon.”

Protesters double down
Meanwhile, anti-salmon farming rhetoric is heating up in Tasmania in the run up to the vote. Protestors are doubling down on their strategy – they are asking Tassal CEO Mark Ryan to act on his promise to remove the 12 salmon pens out of the Huon River “before Cooke Aquaculture takes over on November 3.”

“Tassal must move those pens before the company falls into the hands of the aggressive multinational, Cooke Aquaculture, that may think it has the right to ignore the undertaking and the community,” said Neighbours of Fish Farming on Thursday.

The group will launch its campaign, called “It’s time to Go” on Saturday, October 22.

Tassal is a market leader, accounting for 40-percent share of domestic farmed salmon production. The company has long-term leases to farm around 1,300 hectares of Tasmanian waters.

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