Seafood giant Cooke ups stake in Tassal

Canadian company Cooke Inc is happy to own Australia’s largest salmon producer one nibble at a time judging by its investment of US$20.7 million (AUD$30.1 million) or 6.2 million shares in the company, Tassal.

Cooke Aquaculture’s latest share purchase comes in the wake of its three attempts to takeover Tassal this past May and June.

Its latest offer of $719 million or $3.3 per share (AUD$4.85) on June 28 represented a 22.2 percent premium to Tassal’s previous-day closing share price. But Tassal’s board recommended to its shareholders that the offer did not reflect the fundamental value of the business and that it was not in their (shareholders’) best interest.

The Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick-based Cooke now owns 10.49 percent of the company.

Industry observers see Tassal as an attractive target. Tassal’s production is 40,000 tonnes a year, which is 40,000 tonnes of additional production capacity for Cooke that it cannot find in its own homeland. Tassal has for the past 40 years honed its salmon breeding program and a feeding program that has achieved nearly 1:1 FCR.

But activists have sounded an alarm over the potential sale of the Australian company to overseas business. The Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection believe “Tassal is the last industrial salmon producer here that has a modicum of transparency because it is listed on the stock market – at least it has to report on its activities once a year,” Tasmanian news outlet The Mercury said.

SalmonBusiness has reached out to Cooke’s Australian representative.

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