Arnarlax owner boosts Icelandic investments

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Four years ago Norwegian company Salmus sold its interests in the country’s salmon farming sector and invested the profits from the sale in a new Icelandic company: Arnarlax. Now they’re ploughing more capital into this investment.

The Leirfjord company sold both of its fish production licenses to Nova Sea in 2013, which gave it €8.5 million of capital to invest elsewhere. The two owners, Mathias Gardarsson and his son Kristian Mathiasson, were keen to try their luck with salmon farming in their homeland of Iceland.

They imported 350,000 salmon eggs that were hatched in a smolt production facility at Tálknafjördur, and duly released into a marine farm in the Arnarfjördur, one of the Icelandic West Fjords.

The western reaches of Iceland have ideal natural conditions, Mathiasson once remarked in an interview with a Norwegian newspaper.

The newly established Arnarlax, which at that time was wholly owned by Salmus,  eventually developed into the island republic’s biggest marine farming company. Arnarlax is still expanding at an impressive rate and building up biomass.

Capital and ownership

Fortunately for Arnalax they have the aquaculture giant SalMar on board. At the close of 2016 the accounts of Salmus, which is not physically operating anymore, showed the entry of a loan amounting to €27 million – over five times the amount entered for shareholder equity. According to the notes in the annual accounts this loan is provided by an enterprise in the same group.

There is only one enterprise in the group that can lend such a hefty sum to Salmus: namely SalMar, which owns 50 percent of Salmus, with the remaining 50 percent in the hands of the Edinburg investment firm, owned 50/50 by Mathias Gardarsson and Kristian Mathiasson.

“This recapitalisation of Salmus is tied up with Arnalax’s stock market launch, which was implemented in the spring of 2016 in connection with the acquisition of Fjardalax. As we announced earlier, SalMar contributed €21m to the recapitalisation of Salmus,” SalMar’s CFO Trond Tuvstein told Salmon Business.

Norwegian investors

The principal asset held by Salmus is 49.9 percent of shares in Arnarlax. Last year the latter company raised €54 million in shareholder equity from Norwegian investors, including the Astrup family’s investment firm Pactum, the TINE group’s pension fund MP Pensjon, Tinfos heir Kjetil Holta, former Aker Seafood and SalMar CEO Yngve Myhre, Skagen heir Kristian Fredrik Kleppa Stensrud and ex-stockbroker Ketil Skorstad.