Marine Harvest in Chile: to acquire, or not to acquire?

February 8, 2013, 3:41 pm

Marine Harvest is “carefully monitoring structural opportunities arising from the current challenging situation for the Chilean industry”, the company said in its Q4 report.

In terms of what this could mean for mergers and acquisitions in Chile, CEO Alf-Helge Aarskog is unsurprisingly tightlipped, seeing as he heads up a stock-listed group.

The CEO declined to comment on M&A talk to Undercurrent News, merely saying the company assesses acquisitions “all the time”.

In Chile, it seems everyone is talking to everyone else on some sort of deal, including the Norwegians.

For example, Marine Harvest and Cermaq were recently linked to a move for Pescanova’s salmon farms in Chile.

However, nothing came of this or any other acquisition talk, despite analysts often referring to the chances for Norwegian players to get lead consolidation in Chile.

Despite this, only Cermaq has recently made a move, with the acquisition of Cultivos Marinos Chiloe last year.

In fact, Leroy Seafood Group went the other way on Thursday, selling its licenses to Salmones Friosur, a company seen as an expanding player in the industry. Leroy had not been using the licenses and had been leasing some of them out to Friosur anyway.

Leroy it wanted to focus in Europe and Marine Harvest’s general attitude to Chile since the infectious salmon anemia outbreak has also been one of caution.

In an interview with Undercurrent Thursday, Aarskog said Chilean authorities and companies have done a great job in developing the new aquaculture regulatory framework that will enter into force in March, but the challenge will be to ensure that the rules are properly followed.

The company is also not utilizing all of its licenses in Chile.

Marine Harvest uses around 25-30 of its 155 licenses, he said. Given the price situation in Chile being what it is, “I think the salmon industry in Chile, including Marine Harvest, should be very happy we are not using all of them”.

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