NTS board heads for another clash


The SalMar – NTS takeover saga took a bizarre twist today after a financial deal to merge two businesses within the NTS group was thrown into question.

Seafood group NTS acquired fish farmer SalmoNor last year and it has now emerged that Norway Royal Salmon (NRS), also an NTS subsidiary, plans to raise two billion krone (£170m) to finance a merger with SalmoNor.

Both are part of the NTS group which is itself subject to a takeover offer from SalMar, but the latter’s CEO Gustav Witzøe said he knew nothing about the move – which has clearly taken him by surprise.

SalMar said a few weeks ago that a condition of its NOK 15bn (£1.25bn) bid is that the NRS/SalmoNor merger should not go ahead.

Witzøe told the business website E24.no he planned to check up on the move and report back. It is being suggested that the NRS move could threaten the SalMar bid.

NRS said it had engaged ABG Sundal Collier as its financial advisor, to assist in the financing process related to the acquisition of SalmoNor.

The independent members of the board of NRS said in a Stock Exchange announcement they believe that the transaction will create significant shareholder value in NRS, adding that they had received support for the financing process from both existing shareholders and from potential new investors.

A merger between NRS and SalmoNor was announced some weeks ago when NTS founder Helge Gaso was group chairman, prior to his removal at an extraordinary general meeting (EGM). The share purchase agreement values ​​SalmoNor at a company value of NOK 8.3bn (£750m), and an equity value of just over NOK 6bn (£500m).

The battle over who should control the NTS aquaculture group board continues tomorrow with the third EGM in as many months.

The Øie family who lost out earlier this year, are making a fresh attempt to change the situation and possibly hope to encourage SalMar to come in with an improved offer.

Helge Gåsø



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