Purchase of Huon first step in a broader expansion plan globally for JBS

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Brazilian meat giant JBS, the new owner of Tasmanian salmon farmer Huon, says the Tasmanian salmon industry needs to do a better job of explaining itself to the wider community.

On Monday, JBS Australia chief executive Brent Eastwood commented on the finalisation of the takeover of Huon, explaining that it is the first step in a broader expansion plan globally for the group.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Eastwood said the company’s priority was to ensure Huon was operating as efficiently as possible, without expanding the Huon salmon farming footprint in Tasmania.

“For us, it’s about doing better,” he said.

Eastwood explained that JBS had always had a strategy of carefully assessing business opportunities and then acquiring and investing behind those operations. “We are not in the business of buying and selling; we are long-term owners,” he said.

Eastwood said the main players in the Tasmanian salmon industry needed to do better at explaining the positives that the industry brought the state to try and counter hostile opposition from environmental groups.

“We are acutely aware of the sensitivities of this to all Tasmanians,” he said.

Eastwood said JBS had also been upfront in its exchanges with Tattarang owner, Andrew Forrest, in an acrimonious takeover battle for Huon, and was now looking ahead, not backwards.

Read more: Huon CEO Bender launches robust defence in response to Andrew Forrest’s demands of improved welfare ahead of JBS takeover

Forrest’s investment vehicle held 18.5 per cent of Huon and had threatened to vote against the deal, but ended up backing the $3.85-per-share offer.

Tattarang had been highly critical of JBS, waging a campaign demanding it commit to higher animal welfare standards across the world, including a “no pain, no fear” approach.

JBS said it was an unequivocal backer of the “no pain, no fear” principles and committed to the highest standards of fish health and sustainable farming practices.