Fast-growing NTS could pay €30Mn for Fiskeldi stake

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Fast-growing central-Norway outfit with holdings in biomass, wellboats and service vessels is spending big to maintain growth

Oslo-listed aquaculture holding company, NTS — an outfit with burgeoning interests in salmon-farming — has posted a fourth-quarter 2017 EBITDA of EUR 12.2 million, up 130 percent over the same period a year ago on a doubling of earnings, much of it due to a year-old stake in fish-farmer Midt-Norsk Havbruk.

NTS turnover accrued to EUR 36.3 million in the quarter, more than double the 161 million kroner achieved in Q4 2016. The late surge helped generate a net pre-tax profit of EUR 4 million in Q4.

In October last year, NTS penned an agreement with MNH Holding to buy 23.1 million shares in Icelandic fish farmer, Fiskeldi Ausfjarda, good for 45.2 percent of the Icelandic company’s stock. NTS’s wholly owned business, Midt-Norsk Havbruk — builder of the Aquatraz offshore salmon grow-out project — already owns 16.9 percent of the shares in the Icelandic company.

The NTS share purchase of Fiskeldi is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2018, a note to shareholders said.

New harvest
Testament to some convoluted ownership patterns, NTS also owns Midt-Norsk Havbruk, a company whose turnover of EUR 21 million in Q4 grew to EUR 68 million for all of 2017. Midt-Norsk harvested 4,000 tonnes of gutted salmon in Q4.

In October 2017, NTS had apparently turned down an offer to also buy up all of MNH Holding, although judging by NTS’s shareholder note, it has had accounting responsibility for at least Midt-Norsk (if not MNH holding) since April 2017.

There’s no doubt, however, that NTS has been on a shopping spree after investing about EUR 12 million kroner in the fourth-quarter with more spending on the way. It’s building a brood facility and is still investing in Aquatraz, known to be an MNH project.

Icelandic interests
“The investments are generally financed by our own capital and bank loans,” a statement from the board said. “After the buy-up of MNH, there’ll be two bigger investments related to two new smolt facilities and investments related to the Aquatraz concessions. Going forward, an agreement is in place for the purchase of 45.18 percent in Fiskeadi Austfjarda.

“In addition, an agreement exists for the purchase of a service boat, a workboat and a feed barge valued at 82.5 million kroner (EUR 8.6 million) for delivery in 2018.”

Meanwhile, the price of Fiskeldi shares had last October been linked to the value of the company’s Icelandic leases. It is understood, that should the biomass allowances in those licenses grow to 24,000 t, then NTS will have to pay EUR 30.5 million to complete its deal with MNH Holding.