Speculation grows over new bid for NRS

A tie-up between fish farmers Midt-Norsk Havbruk (MNH) and Norway Royal Salmon (NRS) could be on again, it emerged in Oslo last night.

A proposed merger between the two was abruptly called off last November, but it was disclosed yesterday that MNH has now acquired an additional 14.45% stake NRS.

Midt-Norsk Havbruk, which is part of the larger integrated aquaculture group NTS ASA, reportedly purchased 6.3 million shares in NRS worth an estimated NOK 1.3bn (£108m). Through MNH, this lifts the NTS group’s holding in NRS to just over 30%.

It is known that MNH has transferred all its shares in the Icelandic company salmon farmer Ice Fish Farm to Måsøval Eiendom which already owns a majority stake in the business.

Speculation is growing that this opens the way for MNH to acquire the whole of Norway Royal Salmon. The group now has a deadline around four weeks to make such an offer.

A key figure in all this is likely to be the fish farming entrepreneur Helge Gåsø, who is chairman of NRS but who has interests in both companies.

NRS is a big player in salmon farming with a harvest target of 52,000 tonnes this year. MNH originates from a traditional fishing and fish processing background and was established as a fish farmer in 1992.

The company controls the entire production chain and says its fish is produced by people with a strong local affiliation.

Based in Trondheim, NRS was also established in 1992. It was the creation by a group of 34 salmon farmers with the aim to build a totally integrated fish farming chain. The company has impressive long term growth plans.

Danske Bank’s Norwegian branch is the financial advisor and Arntzen de Besche Advokatfirma AS is the legal advisor to NTS ASA in connection with this week’s transactions.

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