NTS saga: Did we see this coming?

Aslak Berge

Some seem to have been surprised by today’s Mowi bid.

One can hardly call it a surprise. When shareholders with just over 50 per cent of the votes in NTS place a bid for all the company’s shares, and at the same time state the following rationale for the bid:

“To seek to protect and further develop share values ​​in NTS by continuing to explore alternatives for the company’s shareholders, including selling the shares.”

The fact that the shareholder group had done this entirely at its own discretion without having made surveys among the most obvious stakeholders can really be completely ignored. That would be irrational and irresponsible.

Most media covering the story have also, a long time ago, approached all the major Norwegian and multinational fish farming companies to check if they are among the possible bidders on NTS.

And, as if that were not enough, the share price of NTS has comfortably exceeded the bid of NOK 105 all week.

A new and improved bid was expected.

Although not all media expected a bid from a company such as Mowi:

“Did we see this in the saga of NTS?” The IntraFish editorial staff wonders on Twitter.

It is quite possible that IntraFish’s journalists did not see this coming, but it is not every day that the large fish farming companies are invited to buy a controlling interest in a company with a total production capacity of 124,000 tonnes of salmon.

So it’s a safe bet that all of the big players have spent the last week calculating what such an acquisition would cost them – and whether it would pay off. After all, they owe to the shareholders who want to see them build the company and with it, shareholder value.

The most interesting thing, however, is whether there will be more bids for NTS. How high will they be? How will they be paid – in cash or in shares? There are commissions to be earned here.

The investment banks flock to the big producers to give them advice on acquisition strategies, as well as offer analysis for how to finance and calculate a billion-dollar acquisition in this class.

In this context, synergies are a key word.

It is often said of synergies that they are like our Lord – everyone has heard of him, but no one has seen him.

Because it is precisely cost and income synergies that will determine whether players such as Lerøy, SalMar and Cermaq – and perhaps some more – can defend a bid that exceeds the NOK 13.8 billion (€1.4 billion) that is already on the table.

The battle for NTS / NRS is not over.


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