At least four Norwegian salmon companies, including some of the biggest names in the business, have reached a settlement for US $85m in a class action in the United States over anti-competitive behaviour.
The companies, among them Mowi, SalMar, Lerøy and Grieg, continue to insist there is no basis for the US allegations, dating back three years, which they say are “entirely unsubstantiated”.
The settlement, equivalent to (£67.6m or NOK 815m) remains subject to the approval of the court in the Southern District of Florida.
The saga began in 2019 when the European Commission said it suspected price collusion and raided a number of Norwegian-owned salmon farms in Scotland, but this has not so far led to legal action on the Commission’s part.
The US case was then brought by seafood distributor Euclid Fish Company, together with a number of other American companies.
Euclid claimed that “the defendants often – and erroneously – claimed that cost increases justified the price increases, but their own data disproved this alleged justification.”
A joint statement issued by Mowi, SalMar, Lerøy and Grieg today said: “Although the defendants reject that there is a basis for the allegations and consider the lawsuits to be unfounded, all of the defendants involved in the class action lawsuit in the case against direct buyers, after a mandatory mediation process, accepted a settlement offer from the direct buyers.”
The settlement is subject to the approval of the court in the Southern District of Florida. The total settlement amount for all the Defendants is US $85m.
All the defendants firmly reject the allegations of anti-competitive conduct and are of the clear view that the allegations are unfounded.
SalMar added: “Given that the costs associated with litigation in the United States are significant, combined with the timeline for such litigation and the need to involve extensive internal resources, SalMar ASA has nevertheless accepted a settlement for purely commercial reasons. The settlement does not represent an admission of responsibility or guilt.”
Some of the companies face similar allegations in Canada. Meanwhile, last year the European Commission, which declined to make documents from its own records available to either party in the US case, said that its own investigation is still continuing.