SOUTH AFRICA – Oceana Group, one of the largest fishing companies on the continent is eying acquisitions on other markets as it looks to diversify its operations out of South Africa, Business Day reports.

In South Africa, the company is said to be limited to making big acquisitions prompting to turn to other regions for geographic and species diversification.

The newly appointed CEO Imraan Soomra said Oceana was targeting specifically aquaculture operations in the form of either a low entry point buy-in into a fledgling operation or acquiring an entirely established aquaculture business.

Soomra said they would use the company’s financial muscle in such buys by leveraging their operations in catching, procuring, processing, marketing, and distribution.

“There is a natural inclination to look offshore for possible deals.

There are limited opportunities of scale locally that we could legitimately make a play for,” he said.

“We would like to have a meaningful aquaculture business within five years.”

To establish an integrated global fishing business, Oceana is looking at opportunities abroad but the firm said finding a global fishing business that offered the same returns and margins as Oceana would be difficult.

It is gearing up for competition against smaller JSE-listed competitors such as Premier Fishing and Sea Harvest which said it expects basic headline earnings to increase by 74-98%.

Imraan Soomra was recently confirmed as CEO of the fishing group following the departure of Francois Kuttel who now controls a US-based fishing firm that fishes exclusively for Oceana’s Daybrook fish meal and fish oil operations in the US.

On his new role, Soomra said he was looking forward to building on the next step of the strategic plan especially after working closer to Kuttel for five years.

Oceana is widening its operations by not just relying on the South African business, something that was evident when it acquired Louisiana-based Daybrook in 2015.

In the same year, the company lined up US$13mn in investments into upgrading and increasing capacity for two new facilities in Angola and Namibia.