(updates with more details of deal's significance for Nutreco)
AMSTERDAM (AFX) - Nutreco Holding NV announced it has agreed to sell its entire 75 pct shareholding in fish farming venture Marine Harvest NV to the investment fund Geveran Trading Co Ltd for 881 mln eur.
Geveran Trading will also acquire the remaining 25 pct of Marine Harvest, which is held by Stolt-Nielsen SA, the Dutch food company said.
Including the return of a 155 mln eur loan to Marine Harvest, Nutreco will receive a total return of 1.036 bln eur, generating a net gain of about 350 mln eur, it said.
Marine Harvest was previously planning an initial public offering this year on the Oslo Stock Exchange.
Geveran Trading is part of Greenwich Holding Ltd, a company indirectly controlled by Mr John Fredriksen, Nutreco said.
The Greenwich Group also holds significant stakes in the two Norwegian aquaculture companies Pan Fish ASA and Fjord Seafood ASA.
Geveran Trading will be entitled under the deal to Marine Harvest's profits backdated to Jan 1 this year.
'The preparations for the IPO of Marine Harvest have been put on hold,' Nutreco added.
Marine Harvest was formed in 2004 from the merger of Nutreco's and Stolt-Nielsen's fish farming businesses.
'Nutreco shareholders voted unanimously for the sale of all or at least 34 pct of Nutreco's shareholding in Marine Harvest. Now we will be able to sell all our shares in this company in a single transaction and unlock substantial shareholder value, as we promised,' Wout Dekker, Nutreco CEO, said in a statement.
'We have now finalised the first phase of our Rebalancing for Growth strategy in an even earlier stage than foreseen. We will now put all focus on the second phase of our strategy: the growth of Nutreco s core activities in animal nutrition and fish feed,' the CEO said.
From the pioneering days in salmon farming with Mares Australes in Chile, Nutreco was able to build the biggest salmon farming company in the world with the acquisition of Marine Harvest McConnell in 1999 and subsequently the acquisition of Hydro Seafood in 2000, the company said.
The next important step was made in September 2004 when Nutreco and Stolt-Nielsen announced the plan to merge their fish farming activities.
'Favourable market conditions for farmed salmon and the rapid progress made in the integration of both parts of the joint venture, helped to finalise the planned divestment of Marine Harvest much earlier than foreseen,' the company added.
The salmon feed supply contract between Marine Harvest and Nutreco's Skretting subsidiary will be continued after completion of the deal, Nutreco said. The transaction creates fantastic growth opportunities for Marine Harvest. As we predicted, the independent joint venture Marine Harvest has indeed acted as a catalyst for further consolidation within the salmon farming industry. It will now be in the centre of a next wave of industry consolidation. This wave will create the sizeable companies in modern aquaculture that will be able to meet the growing demands of consumers all around the globe for high quality and wholesome seafood, said Mr Dekker email@example.com cmm/an COPYRIGHT Copyright AFX News Limited 2005. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of AFX News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of AFX News. AFX News and AFX Financial News Logo are registered trademarks of AFX News Limited