Sealord is set to become the country’s biggest seafood business after announcing an agreement to buy privately owned Independent Fisheries, one of New Zealand’s largest deep-sea fishing companies.
Sealord described the deal as “the largest financial transaction in the seafood sector” since the Sealord deal in 1992, which was part of the Māori Treaty Settlement.
That Sealord deal had a total value estimated at about $500 million, but a Sealord spokesperson on Friday said the terms of the Independent Fisheries sale were confidential.
But the transaction would make the fishing company the biggest seafood business in the country, Sealord said.
The acquisition of the Christchurch-based company would come with about 46,000 metric tonnes of quota, two owned and one chartered deepwater factory fishing vessel, 500-plus vessel crew and staff, and a cold storage facility.
The deal is subject to satisfying several conditions, which include clearance from the Commerce Commission and consent from the Overseas Investment Office (OIO).
“The date of settlement will be dependent on when the various conditions and approvals are met,” Sealord said.
Sealord chief executive Doug Paulin described ownership of the Independent Fisheries business as an “incredibly unique” opportunity because acquisitions of this type “rarely come along in deepwater fishing”.
He added: “The business is an excellent fit for Sealord both operationally and culturally.”
Independent Fisheries managing director Mark Allison said the deal would enhance the future growth of the company.
“This is a proud moment for our business and for its founding family, who have built it from its humble beginnings to the successful company it is today.”
Independent Fisheries was founded by Howard Shadbolt in Linwood, Christchurch.
It started off as a small fish and chip shop in 1956.
“There are immediate synergies that Independent Fisheries and the Sealord Group of companies can utilise both internally and externally that will provide excellent opportunities for the existing staff, customers, and suppliers to grow with the Sealord Group,” Allison added.
Since then, it’s grown into one of NZ’s major privately-owned fishing businesses and has the fourth largest deepwater quota package in NZ, Sealord said.
On Wednesday, the NZ Commerce Commission granted clearance for Iwi-owned fishing company Moana to lease Sanford’s annual catchment entitlement (ACE) for much of its quota of North Island inshore species.