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FISHupdate Briefing
Published:  13 July, 2012

News stories from around the industry.

THE Findus group, which owns Young's Seafood and The Seafood Company, appears to have fought off a takeover bid by the private equity company Triton Partners.Triton  stepped  in last month with a £240-million offer for Findus and a pledge to pay down some of its debt., said to total £700-million. German owned Triton is keen to get into the seafood business and last year made an unsuccessful bid  for The Icelandic Group, which owns Coldwater Seafoods and Seachill in Grimsby. This offer for Findus was rebuffed last week and  the current private equity owner Lion Capital has indicated that will keep hold of its stake in Findus which also operates in France and Scandinavia..According to reports, Lion will retain about a one-third stake in Findus, with Highbridge Capital and JP Morgan jointly owning about half of Findus in exchange for £70 million of their debt being written off. Effectively, it means that Findus has been partly acquired by its debt holders. Findus has annual sales of over £1.1-billion and through its seafood operations employs over 2,000 people in Grimsby and Scotland. In another seafood move, the private equity house Permira  had considered a  refinancing of its frozen food firm Birds Eye Iglo, which would land the firm a 500 million euro (£397 million) windfall and return value to shareholders.  But that plan has now been rejected.Permira bought Birds Eye from Unilever in 2009 for around £1.2-billion after it had closed its factories in Grimsby and Hull.

Production of herring and mackerel is in full swing at HB Grandi’s Iceland pelagic complex at Vopnafjördur. Around 2,700 tonnes of fish have been landed so far this season since fishing started at the beginning of this month and there are now close to 150 people employed at the plant.The company said each of HB Grandi’s three pelagic vessels have landed twice, with fishing grounds off the east coast only eight hours’ steaming time away. According to Magnús Róbertsson, in charge of production at the Vopnafjördur plant, the fish has been fresh but has contained an amount of feed. He said that landings have been approximately 60 per cent  herring, with fishing managed as far as possible to catch more herring than mackerel this early in the season.He added: "All of the herring goes for frozen butterfly fillet production."

AUSTRALIA'S opposition Leader Tony Abbott has warned that a proposed new carbon tax planned by the Government will increase the price of seafood. He made the comments during a tour of Melbourne Fish Market with his small business spokesman Bruce Billson.Mr Abbott said the carbon tax will affect the seafood industry at every level."It's going to hit diesel that trawlers use. It's going to hit power costs. It's going to radically increase costs of refrigeration," he told reporters."It will just get worse and worse as the carbon tax goes up and up." Mr Abbott also criticised the government's conservation efforts with the creation of fishing-free marine parks.Mr Billson added: "We want Australians to eat Australian seafood."

THE value of Norwegian Seafood exports in the first half of this year have fallen by almost five per cent. They totalled 24.8 billion Norwegian kroners a fall of 1.2 billion kroners, a reduction of 4.8 per cent over the same period last year. But on the bright side figures for this June show a seven per cent increase in the value of salmon exports - up to 256 million kroners..  However, the month of June saw generally good demand for seafood, with growth in exports of salmon, pelagic fish and clipfish. Farmed salmon exports in the first half-year totalled 14 billion kroners, down by 6.5 per cent compared to the same period last year. Exports of fjord trout increased in value by 31 per cent, to a total of 802 million kroners . In June, exports were up by 29 per cent, to a total of 129 million kroners . The biggest importers are Russia and Japan.

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