Grieg Jumps as Fredriksen’s Marine Harvest Purchases 26% Stake

Grieg Seafood ASA jumped the most in 4 1/2 years in Oslo trading after Marine Harvest ASA, the world’s largest salmon farmer, bought a 634 million-krone ($103 million) stake that raises the prospect of a takeover.

Grieg Seafood rose as much as 26 percent, the most since April 17, 2009, and was up 23 percent at 21.9 kroner as of 3:46 p.m. in the Norwegian capital, making it the biggest mover on the Oslo exchange’s All-Share Index. About 2.1 million shares have traded, more than 23 times the three-month average daily volume. Marine Harvest shares fell 0.5 percent.

“We view this as an initial step in acquiring the whole company, in line with Marine Harvest expansion ambitions,” Nadia Bendriss, a credit analyst at Nordea Bank AB in Oslo, said in a note. Grieg’s operations in Finnmark provide Marine Harvest with the possibility to expand in a region where it doesn’t have assets, while the Grieg’s Rogaland and Canada operations could be integrated, according to Bendriss.

The purchase reflects an increase in acquisitions in the fisheries industry amid recovering fish prices. Global announced deals grew by more than four times in value this year to almost $4 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Marine Harvest ended a takeover bid for Cermaq ASA in June after failing to get a sufficient acceptances.

“We were offered an equity post yesterday evening and we decided to buy it at that price,” Marine Harvest Chief Executive Officer Alf-Helge Aarskog said in phone interview today. “If we’re offered another, we’ll consider it.”

While Marine Harvest hasn’t yet examined the potential synergies between the two companies, it has “good cooperation” with Grieg Seafood in many markets, Aarskog said. He declined to comment on whether Marine Harvest was actively seeking to increase the stake further.

“Marine Harvest wouldn’t acquire these shares if they didn’t believe it was possible to get control,” Henning Lund and Fredrik Steinslien, analysts at Pareto Securities AS, said in an e-mailed note.

Billionaire John Fredriksen’s Geveran Trading Co. owns 27 percent of Marine Harvest, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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