Norway Open to Several Solutions for Cermaq, Government Says

Norway is open to several solutions for fish-food maker Cermaq ASA, a target for Marine Harvest ASA, as the government said it will seek permission from parliament to either increase or sell its stake in the company.

The government will ask parliament for authorization to either raise its 43.5 percent stake in Cermaq to as high as 65 percent, or sell all of its shares, the Norwegian Trade and Industry Ministry said in a statement today.

“The bid from Marine Harvest doesn’t reflect the value that lies in Cermaq and we wish to have the best possible room to maneuver,” Trade and Industry Minister Trond Giske told reporters in Oslo. The government wants an “industrially-sound solution” for Cermaq and a valuation that reflects “what the company is actually worth,” he said.

Marine Harvest, the world’s largest salmon farmer, on May 31 offered 8.6 shares and 53.25 kroner ($9.24) in cash for each Cermaq share. The Oslo-based company, which had previously proposed 105 kroner a share including a 1-krone dividend, is seeking to expand its fish-feed business while adding Cermaq’s salmon farms in Chile, Canada and Norway.

Nothing Rejected

“We are open to different solutions including a possible future strategic ownership from the state’s side,” Giske said. “We reject no solutions as a starting point.”

Cermaq said in a statement today that Marine Harvest’s offer, valued on June 7 at about 105 kroner a share, doesn’t reflect the company’s underlying value and that it’s in talks with potential bidders for its assets. Possible sales include Cermaq’s EWOS fish-feed and nutrition unit, it said.

Cermaq is encouraged that the government is taking an active ownership role, which helps strengthen its own position in terms of securing value for shareholders, Chairman Baard Mikkelsen said in an interview in Oslo.

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