More drama in Huon saga as Cooke circles

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Canadian company yet to give up hope of buying Australian salmon farmer.

Late Monday night in Australia, reports emerged of yet another possible twist in the acquisition of Tasmanian salmon farmer, Huon.

Following reports last week that the company had been successfully acquired by JBS, the world’s largest meat processor, the Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest made a late play for Huon only to be outflanked by JBS’s secondary offer, an off-market takeover bid at $3.85 per share, with a minimum acceptance condition of 50.1 per cent.

Now, Canadian aquaculture player, Cooke has – according to the Australian Financial Review – made it understood that it has yet to give up hope of buying the Tasmanian salmon operation, despite the $3.85 price being a bridge too far.

This follows speculation that JBS’ bid for Huon could be rejected by the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board.

AFR sources said investment banker David Williams’ firm Kidder Williams was acting for Cooke. Williams refused confirm this but said JBS’ chances of getting FIRB approval were “next to zero”.

 “Right now, Huon and Tasmania need a safe pair of hands. Someone who knows how to run a Salmon farm,” said Williams, a former owner of Huon competitor Tassal.

JBS has recently found itself in hot water recently with US authorities, with Pilgrim’s Pride (majority owned by JBS) pleading guilty to conspiring to increase chicken prices and pass the costs on to consumers. The company agreed to pay a $US107.9 million fine.