Cooke Aquaculture subsidiary bids for bankrupt seafood processor

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True North Seafood confirms it intends to take over New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA-based Mariner Seafood.

Seafoodsource reports that Mariner Seafood – a fresh and frozen seafood company specialising in processing wild-caught and farm-raised finfish – which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this month, is in negotiation with Cooke’s True North Seafood for an asset purchase agreement.

New Bedford, Massachusetts, based processor lost a USD 70 million contract with meal service giant Blue Apron in 2016. A large national retailer in 2018 dropped them, to the tune of USD 38 million in 2018, and then this year’s COVID’19 pandemic hit. Mariner Seafood also defaulted on its revolving USD 10 million loan from Wells Fargo.

True North Seafood, is the stalking horse bidder in the deal, meaning that it has the first, favourable bid solicited by the bankrupt company’s creditors strategically to prevent low-ball offers.

Vice president of public relations for Cooke Joel Richardson confirmed the deal to the publication on behalf of True North Seafood

“True North Seafood Inc., the flagship brand of family-owned Cooke Inc., intends to acquire the business of Mariner Seafood,” he said in an email. “True North Seafood is one of the largest and most trusted providers of seafood in North America. We believe with the combined resources of Mariner and True North, we will be more flexible and efficient in meeting the market demands for sustainable local seafood. We are confident that an acquisition will also assist to secure the local Mariner jobs in New Bedford.”

The site comes with a 25,000-square-foot processing plant, packaging multispecies products.

Cooke Aquaculture operates aquaculture and seafood processing companies under the brands True North Seafoods, Icicle Seafoods, Grupo Culmarex, Seajoy, Omega Protein as well as the Cooke Aquaculture arms of Scotland and Chile.

In June, Ocean Beauty Seafoods and Cooke owned Icicle Seafoods merged their wild salmon operations to create new company OBI Seafoods.