Sources: Chilean salmon firm Ventisqueros in talks to acquire rival

Chilean salmon farmer Productos del Mar Ventisqueros is in talks to acquire a smaller rival, Congelados Pacifico, sources told Undercurrent News.

The Stengel family, members of which own of Congelados Pacifico, are looking to sell out of the salmon business and talks are underway with Ventisqueros, two well-placed sources confirmed.

Cristian Swett Pla, 
CEO of Ventisqueros since October last year, declined to comment to Undercurrent.

Neither Jan or Mark Stengel, two family members involved in Congelados Pacifico, could be reached for comment.

The stage of the talks with Ventisqueros, owned by German investment firm Schorghuber Group, is not clear.

“I am not sure if talks have reached a due diligence stage,” an industry source told Undercurrent. “The Stengel family wants to sell as they would like to get out of salmon farming and they had been talking with some companies.”

The initial plan of the Stengels -- who merged their fishing company, Pesquera Bio Bio, with Camanchaca in late 2011 – had been to grow in the salmon business.

“They never really managed this and the company is too small,” said the source of Congelados Pacifico, which has salmonid production of around 14,000 metric tons.

Ventisqueros has production of around 30,000t, sources said.

If the deal goes though, it will be the latest in a string of buyouts in Chile, where farmers have been suffering with low prices at the end of 2012.

Norwegian aquaculture conglomerate Cermaq snapped up Cultivos Marinos Chiloe last year.

Earlier in February, Leroy Seafood Group sold some its licenses in Chile 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.

Canadian farmer Cooke Aquaculture, which already has an operation in Chile, is looking for a deal in South America.

Cooke is "actively seeking an acquisition" in Chile and a deal could be announced in the near future, a spokeswoman for the company told  told Undercurrent.  

The Canadian salmon producer has just acquired assets from the Spanish seabass and seabream producer Doramenor, in a deal that will take its bass and bream production to 15t within 2013, with Chile next in sight.

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