Salmon boss: tax plan may force me to sell

Ola Braanaas, CEO and sole owner of the Firda Seafood Group (photo: Firda)

THE boss of one of Norway’s leading family owned fish farming businesses has said he is thinking of selling up because of growing frustrations over possible new taxes and regulations.

Ola Braanaas, CEO and sole owner of the Firda Seafood Group, based near Bergen, recently vented his anger after the government published the final draft of its traffic light system. This dictates where future expansion in the industry can and cannot take place.

But it is the controversial new tax proposal, now awaiting parliamentary approval or rejection, which irritates him the most.

The business journal and website Finansavisen reports him as saying it might be more exciting to invest in real estate rather than aquaculture.

This is not the first time Braanaas has spoken out against what he regards as unnecessary official interference in the industry by what he once described as ‘big city coffee latte drinkers’.

When the special government appointed tax committee announced its 40 per cent flat rate proposal last November, he hinted then it might be time for him to quit the business.

Braanaas founded Firda Seafood in 1986 and developed it into one of the country’s largest independent and fully integrated salmon and fjord trout businesses, with an annual turnover of around a billion kroner.

He told Finansavisen that he might sell to one of the big international players such as Mowi, SalMar or Lerøy, and continue simply as a shareholder.

Braanaas, however, rowed back on a comment he made last year that he might consider investing outside of Norway.

He said it was not a question of whether he could afford to pay the tax, but more a matter of maintaining competitiveness.

He told a recent NRK television debate that the company’s investment plans, which included new fish filleting plants, totalled around a billion kroner, which if prevented from going ahead would impact adversely on local communities.

‘We shall have to wait and see what decision the Storting (Norway’s parliament) reaches,’ the outspoken seafood chief added.



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