Witzøe surprised by €203 million NRS share issue

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Dramatic development in the battle for salmon farmers Norway Royal Salmon (NRS) and SalmoNor (NTS)

On Thursday morning, NRS announced a share issue of NOK 2 billion (€203 million) to buy up fish farming company SalmoNor but the announcement has not yet been agreed with the new main shareholder.

“I was not aware of this. I have to check up more closely and get back to you,” SalMar’s CEO Gustav Witzøe told E24.

SalMar has entered into irrevocable prior agreements for the purchase of 50.1 per cent of NTS. NTS owns 68.1 percent of the shares in NRS.

Taken by surprise
According to E24, Witzøe seems completely taken aback by the current stock exchange announcement from Norway Royal Salmon (NRS), which states that the company will raise up to €203 million in new equity to finance the previously announced acquisition of Salmonor.

The development is startling, since such a transaction could overturn another and much larger transaction, namely SalMar’s announced bid for competitor NTS for NOK 15.1 billion (€1.54 billion)

NTS is the largest owner of both NRS and Salmonor, and Salmar has made it a condition of its notified bid that NRS’s notified purchase of Salmonor is not carried out.

The message from NRS on Thursday morning stated, among other things:

“Although the board registers that there has been a development in the ownership situation in the company’s largest shareholder, NTS, the board is of the firm view that it must comply with agreements entered into and fulfill its obligation to make assessments and make decisions that benefit all the company’s shareholders.”

Committed
The announcement came just before a pre-announced extraordinary general meeting of NRS, which will be held on Thursday.

“NRS is legally obliged to implement the transaction agreement entered into with NTS. Furthermore, we believe that the acquisition of Salmonor is at least as attractive for NRS now as when we entered into the agreement in January,” Trude Olafsen, who until Thursday morning led the independent part of the NRS board, told Dagens Næringsliv.

She denies that NTS ‘second largest owner, Helge Gåsø, is doing this to stop SalMar’s acquisition of NTS.

“No. Gåsø has not been involved in the process as it is the independent board that works more on it. We have registered the demanding process of ownership in NTS, but there is something that we in the independent part of the board in NRS can influence to a small extent. We do not do this to beat anyone’s legs,” Olafsen said to DN.