Cooke Aquaculture announces $203M Scottish purchase
Company says Scottish deal won't interfere with Canadian projects
New Brunswick-based Cooke Aquaculture is buying the Scottish subsidiary of Marine Harvest in the Orkney and Shetland Islands in a deal worth $203 million.
The company, which started in Blacks Harbour in 1985, projects it will now employ a total workforce of 2,500 people and have worldwide sales of $1 billion.
"We are always looking for strategic development and investment opportunities in the seafood sector," Glenn Cooke, the CEO of Cooke Aquaculture, said in a release announcing the deal Thursday.
Cooke said the blockbuster acquisition will have no impact on its expansion plans in Canada, which include building a salmon processing plant in Shelburne southwestern Nova Scotia by 2015.
The company operates several salmon farms and a feed mill in Nova Scotia.
"Our plans for Nova Scotia have not changed," Nell Halse, spokesperson for Cooke Aquaculture, told CBC News in a statement on Thursday.
"This deal and our move to Northern Scotland only strengthens our company and our ability to remain globally competitive while honouring our commitment to investments in Atlantic Canada."
Cooke has signed an agreement with Marine Harvest to buy its wholly-owned subsidiary Meridian Salmon Farms Ltd. Meridian generated revenues of $151 million in 2013.
Halse said Meridian produces 20,000 tonnes of farmed and organic salmon, and the brand name is well-respected in the U.K.
The agreement needs regulatory approval and is expected to close in May.
In October, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a new trade agreement with Europe that eliminates tariffs on Canadian seafood exports, a move greeted by producers.
Cooke said owning Meridian, and the European distribution lines that go with it, puts Cooke in a strong position to compete for business on a global scale.
"This acquisition and opportunity to go into northern Scotland is really a major, positive venture for us. It gives us a platform into the EU marketplace and one that ties in nicely and has synergies with our Spanish operations," Halse said.
"Even though that's sea bass and sea bream, we still have a marketing and distribution in southern Europe. So with this Scottish acquisition we'll have access to other European markets."
Halifax law firm Stewart McKelvey was general counsel for the deal.