Sanford Buys Pacifica Seafoods Unit for $66 Million to Boost Aquaculture

Sanford Ltd., New Zealand’s biggest publicly traded fishing company, agreed to buy the mussel and pacific oyster unit of Pacifica Seafoods Group.

The assets include 70 marine farms, 800 mussel growing lines, a processing plant and 10 vessels, Auckland-based Sanford said in a statement sent to the stock exchange. The purchase prices is NZ$85 million ($66 million), it said.

Sanford will increase its leading share of New Zealand’s mussel production market by buying its closest rival, the company said. Antitrust regulators last week approved the deal, saying it wouldn’t significantly reduce competition.

“The acquisition is highly complementary with our existing aquaculture business,” Managing Director Eric Barratt said in the statement. The deal “will consolidate Sanford’s position as New Zealand’s number one aquaculture producer and exporter.”

Mussels, oysters and salmon grown in marine farms make up about 15 percent of New Zealand’s NZ$1.3 billion a year of fish and shellfish exports.

The transaction will reduce costs and add to earnings in the year ending Sept. 30, 2011, Sanford said. All 295 Pacifica workers will be offered jobs although there will be some restructuring where roles are duplicated, it said.

Sanford will use a three-year debt facility to pay for the acquisition, it said, without providing more details. First NZ Capital and lawyers Chapman Tripp were the company’s advisers.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tracy Withers in Wellington at twithers@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Iain Wilson iwilson2@bloomberg.net.

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