Norway anticipates rival bidders for NTS

Norway Royal Salmon's Arctic Offshore Farm

Speculation is growing in Norway over whether a rival bidder is about to enter the fray for the NTS aquaculture group.

Mowi submitted a NOK 13.8bn (£1.15bn) offer for NTS on Monday, averaging NOK 11 per share.

If successful, Mowi would become a massive force in salmon, giving it almost 25% of world-wide production.

Industry insiders are expecting SalMar to move with a higher offer in the next few days, however, with the salmon farming businesses Norway Royal Salmon and SalmoNor the big attraction. SalMar, which lost out to NTS in the fight for NRS back in the summer, has remained silent so far.

Mitsubishi-owned Cermaq cannot be ruled out either. A bid by Cermaq would be ironic because Mowi, when it was Marine Harvest, failed in a bid for that business back in 2013.

Per Even Hauge who heads the seafood department at investment bank DNB Markets in Norway told the business news platform Dagen Naeringsliv that DNB had been in contact with a number of industrial players who are showing interest.

Christian Olsen Nordby from the European Financial Services company Kepler Cheuvreaux also told Dagen Naeringsliv that a fierce bidding war may yet develop.

He said location was an important factor with SalMar operating in north and central Norway where NRS and SalmoNor also have farms. Mowi is also active in those regions.

Pareto analyst Carl-Emil Kjølås Johannessen also believes a new bidder is likely, but pointed out there are not many companies with the financial clout to pay such a high price However, SalMar was a probable candidate, he said.

At the moment the speculation shows no sign of letting up.