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Sea Harvest in talks to acquire Viking Fishing

BUSINESS LIVE / 11 DECEMBER 2017 - 09:53 / MARC HASENFUSS

Sea Harvest, the fishing enterprise controlled by empowerment company Brimstone Investment Corporation, looks set to land its first acquisition in South African waters since listing on the JSE in March.

A cautionary announcement released on Monday disclosed that Sea Harvest, which has hake operations in SA and a controlling stake in Australian diversified seafood business Mareterram, had started negotiations with unlisted Viking Fishing Holdings.

The refurbished Harvest African Peace, a trawler for fisheries company Sea Harvest.

Picture: THE TIMES/HALDEN KROG

Family-owned Viking has been in the news since it lost a sizeable portion of its inshore hake-fishing allocation, a development that the company vainly fought to overturn in court.

The Viking deal is the third fishing sector acquisition undertaken by a black-owned company in 2017.

Image - Business Live

In May, the unlisted TerraSan Group bought out fish canning specialists the Saldanha Group, while Premier Fishing, which also listed on the JSE in early 2017, snapped up a controlling stake in the Port Elizabeth-based Talhado squid-fishing business.

An increase in corporate action throughout the local fishing sector has been predicted in the run-up to the 2020 fishing rights allocation process.

The proposed Viking deal appears to cater to smaller fishing sector participants with Sea Harvest, which is still flush with capital raised at listing, heading a broad-based black economic consortium in the bid to take over Viking.

The fishing activities of Viking, one of the largest fishing enterprises in SA, include products such as hake, pilchards, prawn, snoek and angelfish.

The consortium, which is led by Sea Harvest, will also bid for 50% of Viking’s sprawling aquaculture business, which spans abalone, oysters, mussels and rainbow trout.

Recently, Viking Aquaculture also acquired a 30% stake in Abagold’s Specialised Aquatic Feeds business. A fishing-sector source, who asked not to be named, said that the pricing of the deal would be interesting to gauge, considering Viking had lost a large part of its core hake allocation.

The source said that the Viking deal would offer Sea Harvest much-needed diversification away from its core hake fishing endeavours.

“The deal will make Sea Harvest a bigger hake player than [AVI-controlled] rival I&J and has the potential to transform Sea Harvest into a ‘South African fishing champion’.”

The proposed Viking deal follows hard on the heels of Sea Harvest’s 56% Australian subsidiary, Mareterram, delving into the West Australian Spanish mackerel fishing sector.

Early in November Mareterram acquired two mackerel licence packages — including a fishing fleet, support vessels as well as licences.

Mareterram’s shift into mackerel fishing adds further diversity to the company’s prawn, scallop and crab fishing interests in Australia.

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LINK - https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/companies/2017-12-11-sea-harvest-in-talks-to-acquire-viking-fishing/

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