Completion of the transactions is conditional upon Lerøy securing financing, and the approval of the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries, and the relevant competition authorities. Provided completion of the transaction, Lerøy also intends to make an offer for the remaining shares in Norway Seafoods.
STRENGHTENED LERØY POSITION IN WHITEFISH MARKET
"Aker has received and accepted an offer from Lerøy to sell its shares in Havfisk and Norway Seafoods," said Aker President and Chief Executive Officer Øyvind Eriksen. "This is a quite an acknowledgement of our whitefish harvesting and processing companies from one of Norway's leading seafood exporters."
"Aker has been an industrial owner in the Norwegian fishing industry since 1996," Eriksen added. "Our ownership will be passed on to an industrial owner who harbours ambitions for the Norwegian seafood sector. Lerøy is the world's second-largest producer of Atlantic salmon and will with this strengthen its position within the whitefish segment."
HIGH EXPECTATIONS TO LERØY
"It is with mixed feelings that we receive the news of the change in ownership, however we see that this could open for new opportunities," said Bjarne Kristiansen, Norway Seafoods' employee representative. "Aker has been a good, long-term owner for 20 years. We have high expectations of Lerøy as an owner. The companies complement each other. Lerøy is a global leader on salmon, Havfisk provides world class raw material from cod, saithe and haddock, and Norway Seafoods gets an owner with core competencies in sales, marketing and distribution."
"I've spent 20 years building and developing what is today Havfisk and Norway Seafoods," said Aker Chairman and principal shareholder Kjell Inge Røkke. "There is much I am proud of, although we haven't succeeded in everything we set out to do as owners. Aker received an offer we deemed financially acceptable, and our harvesting and processing companies couldn't have gotten a better owner. I was introduced to Helge Møgster and his family 29 years ago and I'm impressed with his industrial accomplishments. Møgster will now have the opportunity to combine salmon and whitefish activities, which should be welcomed by the local communities in which Norway Seafoods operates, as well as by Helge Møgster and his fellow shareholders."
GOING FORWARD WITH KRILL, BIOTECH AND OFFSHORE FARMING
"I'm grateful for my journey through the whitefish industry, and I would especially like to extend my thanks to the fishermen, the employees, our supporters and our critics," Røkke added. "Without debate there would be no progress. The opportunity to establish an international seafood group that spans both salmon and whitefish is one the Norwegian whitefish industry deserves."
Going forward, Aker's seafood investments will be concentrated on krill harvesting and marine biotechnology. Aker has also, through a joint venture with Norway Royal Salmon, submitted an application for development licenses for the farming of salmon offshore.