Cooke says Tassal offer ‘attractive’

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Tassal workers on pen, Tasmania

Cooke Aquaculture has said it considers its AU $1 billion (£567m) bid for the Tasmanian salmon farmer Tassal to be an attractive proposition for shareholders.

Yesterday the company submitted an offer of AU $4.85 per share which was rejected by the Hobart based company.

It now turns out this was Cooke’s third offer, starting at AU $4.67 a share on 26 May, followed by A$4.80 a share on 6 June.

The Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s leading newspapers, said Canadian owned Cooke may have to lift its offer to above $5 if it is to get its prize. Last night the Tassal price had risen by 16% to $4.61 a share.

Cooke said in a statement last night that it was keen to undertake the transaction on a friendly basis with an endorsement from Tassal’s board of directors, and therefore had proposed that the transaction occur by way of a Tassal scheme of arrangement.

The statement continued: “The proposal is subject to limited conditionality and, importantly, is not subject to Cooke being granted due diligence access.

“Cooke considers its revised proposal is particularly attractive given the significant increase in risk-free rates and the cost of debt since the first non-binding indicative proposal given to the Tassal board on Thursday, 26 May 2022.

“Cooke believes its proposed cash consideration of A$4.85 per share is an attractive premium considering Tassal’s salmon volumes have been maximised given restrictions on new marine farming leases.”

It concludes: “Cooke’s intent is to engage the Tassal board of directors to provide shareholders with a transaction capable of being completed.”

With sales of CAD$2.4bn (£1.52bn), Cooke has a global reach stretching from North, Central and South America to Scotland and the Mediterranean. Predominantly a salmon farmer, it also cultivates shrimp, sea bass and sea bream.

If Cooke is eventually successful it would be the second Tasmanian salmon farmer to fall under foreign ownership in the past year. Last September the Brazilian meat giant JBS outmanoeuvred Cooke to buy Huon Aquaculture for around AU $425m (£240.1).