AUSTRALIA – Canada-based seafood processor Cooke is seeking expansion in the international seafood market through the acquisition of an Australian-based salmon farming company, Tassal Group for US$1.19 billion.

A deal that comes just a few weeks from the acquisition of the leading shrimp and prawn processor in Western Europe, Morubel, is way above the median premium of 38 percent in successful Australian M&A transactions over the past 15 years.

Cooke presently pursued Tassal, making previous offers of US$4.67, US$4.80, and thenUS$4.85 in the space of a month leading up to the end of June, showing Australia as an important piece of a global network that already includes 10 countries.

The pending acquisition of Tassal and JBS’s US$425 million buyout of Huon last year, would leave only a few small ASX-listed players in aquaculture since the two giants will be foreign-owned.

JBS, which owns a string of abattoirs in Australia, secured Huon after an acrimonious takeover battle with Rich Lister Andrew Forrest and his investment vehicle Tattarang.

The other third Tasmania-based producer giant, Petuna is 50 percent owned by New Zealand’s Sealord Group and Australian founders, Peter and Una Rockliff.

The battle for takeovers in the Australian seafood industry comes at a time when the Tasmanian government is applying a moratorium on granting any new leases in the state’s waters for salmon farming.

Tassal rears Atlantic salmon and prawns sold as branded products in Australia and for export, which generated a near 60 percent jump in full-year net profit after tax (NPAT) to US$55.4 million.

The growth was driven by strengthening salmon and prawn prices overseas investors saw the value for money in Australian protein-producing assets.

James Fazzino, Tassal’s chair, said: “The Tassal board believes the revised proposal reflects appropriate long-term value for the business and is unanimous in its view that the scheme is in the best interests of Tassal shareholders.”

Glenn Cooke, the CEO of family-owned Cooke, described Tassal as “an excellent fit”, to complement its operations in Canada, the US, Chile, and Scotland.

He added that Cooke intends to make strategic investments in engineering, science, and technology to further enhance Tassal’s capabilities, in addition to growing the sales reach through leveraging its worldwide seafood distribution channels.

Glen noted that aquaculture is starting to come into its own, considering the worldwide status of aquaculture show that it is one of the fastest growing in protein, and everywhere there is more aquaculture.

A lot of people are turning to eat less red meat especially driven by Asian and Indian wealth, even though red meat consumption is increasing is also an indicator of growth.

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