Helge Gåsø called his rivals’ bluff in the battle for NRS. He could hardly have played his hand better

Editorial
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It was the most dramatic power struggle since Mowi’s attempted takeover of Cermaq in the spring of 2013. One man has emerged as the clear winner.

The dust has settled. The wily Helge Gåsø and NTS outmanoeuvred Gustav Witzøe and SalMar in the acquisition battle for Norway Royal Salmon (NRS). After the final count has been settled, it turns out that NTS, which is 39 per cent owned by Gåsø, has taken control of 68.7 per cent of the shares in NRS.

Gåsø could hardly have asked for a better result.

Full control
He took over just more than two-thirds of the shares, which means that he has de facto full control in upcoming general meetings of NRS. He has achieved this control without sinking into debt. NRS is already a subsidiary of NTS. Gåsø is now free to integrate the two companies’ activities.

Everything has gone according to plan.

Aslak Berge

Although, it did not look like that at all on Thursday morning – a few hours before NTS bid of NOK 240 expired.

At that time, NRS’s share price was between NOK 275 and 276. Above the level of SalMar’s announced bid of NOK 270. In other words, there was an expectation in the market that there would be an even higher bid.

Then the group leaders Høstlund, Loe and Hatlebrekke, with astonishingly good timing, sold their NRS shares for NOK 101.7 million (€9.8 million). The sale price was NOK 275.

Block
One hour later, it became known that NTS had sent a letter to the board of NRS demanding that an extraordinary general meeting of NRS be held. The central point in the letter was the revocation of the board authorization for a capital increase approved at the annual general meeting on 27 May. During the annual general meeting, NRS obtained a standard issue resolution to be able to print ten per cent new shares.

This decision was absolutely central to SalMar’s plan to acquire the competitor NRS. At this time, NTS had taken control of 40.6 per cent of NRS. Now the odds of SalMar success began to weaken.

It was an important chess move from Gåsø.

Fear
At the same moment, fear spread into the financial market. Fear that SalMar’s bid could be blocked. Thus began the panic sale. The share price fell vertically.

When NTS, with a mere hour left of stock exchange trading and the acceptance period for the bid of NOK 240, announced that the company had received enough acceptances to pass 50 per cent ownership, and thus eliminate SalMar’s condition for its bid, the game was over.

Among those who had accepted the offer of 240 kroner, to the astonishment of many, were both Egil Kristoffersen & Sønner and Norway Fresh, the major owners who together held 20.8 per cent of the shares NRS. The official explanation is that SalMar’s communication about the bidding conditions prevented the company from winning the match.

Read also: Kristoffersen cashes out of NRS for €105m. But how much could she have got?

Synergies
The price decline continued on Friday.

The speculators, who had bet that SalMar would win, threw in their cards. The sales pressure sent the NRS price below 200 kroner.

During the weekend, the waves seem to have subsided. SalMar has once again lost an acquisition battle. Helge Gåsø has significantly strengthened his power base in the Norwegian fish farming industry.

Now the work remains to integrate the two fish farming companies NTS and NRS – and realize the synergies between them.