Norway Increases Stake in Fish-Feed Producer Cermaq to 59.2%

Norway increased its stake in fish-feed maker Cermaq ASA to 59.2 percent after earlier this month rejecting a rival offer from billionaire John Fredriksen’s Marine Harvest ASA, the world’s largest salmon producer.

The government today bought 5 million shares in Cermaq at 108 kroner a share, having previously acquired 9.46 million at the same price, the Trade and Industry Ministry said in a statement today. The acquisition is valued at 1.56 billion kroner ($256.1 million), according to Bloomberg calculations.

Norway has sought to keep control of Cermaq, the biggest maker of fish-feed, as industry consolidation accelerates. The government, which rejected Marine Harvest’s offer as too low, has maintained its investment in Cermaq is financial rather than strategic and that it’s open to an “industrially-sound solution” for the company.

Oslo-based Cermaq, which operates fish farms as well as making feed, has received a 6.2 billion-krone offer for its Ewos unit, which makes feed, from Bain Capital LLC and Altor Equity Partners. Cermaq’s board will hold an extraordinary meeting on July 11 to decide on the deal, which needs the backing of 50 percent of shareholders. The government hasn’t said whether it supports the proposed transaction.

Fish-Feed Sale

“A sale of Ewos at the above mentioned terms will be an important step to realize the values in Cermaq,” the company said on June 17. Once the potential agreement is completed, the company plans to focus on developing its farming operations in Norway, Canada and Chile, it said.

Cermaq’s fish feed operations contributed operating revenues of 10.3 billion kroner last year, compared with sales of 3.3 billion kroner for its fish farming operations, according to its annual report. Ewos is the world’s largest salmon feed supplier by volume, while its farming unit is the third-largest salmon producer, it said in the report.

Shares in Cermaq rose as much as 5.4 percent to 108 kroner, the most in a month, and traded 1 percent higher as of 1:45 p.m. in Oslo. That gives the company a market value of 9.6 billion kroner. Marine Harvest gained as much as 3.6 percent and traded 2.2 percent higher at 5.87 kroner as of the same time.