THE sale of Tasmanian salmon producer Tassal appears finally to be underway after an offer exceeding $1 billion from Canadian aquaculture business Cooke was accepted by the company board earlier this week.
The move comes at the fourth time of asking, after offers of $4.67, $4.80 and $4.85 had been rejected since bids started being made in May this year. The accepted offer was to acquire 100 per cent of ordinary shares at a price of $5.23 each, valuing the company at $1.1 billion.
Cooke had previously been in the running to purchase Huon Aquaculture earlier this year before its eventual sale to Brazilian processor JBS. Tassal shareholders will still need to vote later this year on whether to approve the acquisition. The Tassal Board unanimously recommended Tassal shareholders to vote in favour, where a 75 per cent vote in favour will be required to complete the takeover. However, there are plenty of opponents to the Canadian company’s takeover.
Bob Brown Foundation Fish Farm campaigner Alistair Allan said the takeover means profits and accountability will now be flowing out of Tasmania. “Now a foreign company will get the profit and Tasmanians get the loss, including polluted rivers and seas, degraded marine ecosystems and rubbished beaches,” Mr Allan said.
Greens MP Dr Rosalie Woodruff also pointed to the company’s poor track record of environmental impacts, calling them an “atrocious corporate citizen”. “Cooke is a company with scant regard for the law that will run roughshod through Tasmanian waters in a way we’ve never seen before,” Dr Woodruff said.
She noted Cooke was previously being found guilty of overstocking salmon pens, fish farm collapse and mass salmon escape, poisoning of lobsters from illegal pesticides and failing to follow regulations, including for environmental testing and reporting. “Our weak-kneed and government-bound EPA is no match for this corporate steamroller from Canada.”
Tassal remains the last of Australia’s largest salmon producers to be wholly Australian owned after the sale of Petuna and Huon in 2020 and 2021 respectively.