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Cooke Aquaculture's salmon farm at Rattling Beach, N.S. Image: submitted

Cooke Aquaculture Announces $1.1-Billion Bid To Take Over Australian Seafood Company

By Scott Pettigrew Aug 17, 2022 | 11:24 AM

New Brunswick’s Cooke Aquaculture has entered into an agreement to take over Australian seafood company Tassal Group Limited. The deal would see Cooke shell out $5.23 per share, pegging Tassal’s value at more than $1.1 billion.

Cooke has had its eye on the company for a while.

In late June, Tassal told the Australian Securities Exchange it had rejected three takeover bids from Cooke. At the time, Cooke’s latest offer was for $4.85 per share.

Now, Tassal’s board of directors has unanimously recommended shareholders accept Cooke’s latest, $5.23-per-share offer. That vote will take place in November.

Tassal is Australia’s largest vertically integrated seafood producer. The company has more than 1,700 employees and harvested 40,000 metric tonnes of Atlantic salmon and 5,500 metric tonnes of Black Tiger Prawn last year.

Its salmon farms span five marine zones, four freshwater hatcheries, and four processing facilities in Tasmania. It also has prawn farming and seafood processing businesses in Australia.

Cooke’s agreement with Tassal comes just weeks after the company bought the Belgian company Morubel N.V., one of Western Europe’s leading shrimp processors.

That and the pending Tassal takeover will increase Cooke’s global reach. But the company is also in the middle of a significant spending spree in Atlantic Canada.

In 2019, the federal government gave Cooke about $5.6 million to expand its Oak Bay hatchery, where the company is developing advanced genomics technology, as well as its Johnson Lake hatchery.

Those upgrades are part of more than $330 million the company says it will invest in Atlantic Canada over the next five years.

Cooke’s 37-year history in New Brunswick began when Glenn, Michael, and Gifford Cooke started a fish farm in Kelly Cove, New Brunswick. Four years later, the company bought a hatchery in Oak Bay and by 1992 had incorporated as Cooke Aquaculture.

Since then, the company has acquired seafood operations around the world and grown into a massive global operation with more than 10,000 employees.

Trevor Nichols is the associate editor of Huddle, an Acadia Broadcasting content partner.

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