Australian authorities green light JBS takeover of Huon Aquaculture

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/wallix
© GettyImages/wallix

Related tags: Huon Aquaculture, JBS

Brazilian meat giant, JBS, has received the go ahead from the Federal Court of Australia for its takeover of Huon Aquaculture Group Ltd.

JBS announced in August that it would acquire the company, Australia's second-largest salmon producer and one that is listed on that country's stock exchange.

The deal, which marks the entry of JBS into the aquaculture business, is valued at AU$425m (US$315m). It is expected to be finalized at the end of this year.

The majority of Huon shareholders approved the deal on October 29, including Tattarang, which held about 18.5% of Huon shares and is owned by mining billionaire, Andrew Forrest.

Forrest had urged JBS Australia’s parent company to declare its “unequivocal commitment to animal welfare and environmental sustainability.”

“Until JBS declares its unequivocal commitment to adopt the same animal welfare – including the principle of No Pain No Fear – and environmental sustainability standards as JBS Australia across their global operations, Huon shareholders have no certainty for the future of company under JBS Group’s control,”​ he said, prior to the vote.

JBS finally responded, saying it “unequivocally supports the principle of No Pain, No Fear across its global operations.”

The takeover follows a strategic review by Huon in February this year, which it launched after a significant drop in earnings, with it flagging then how it was considering a sale after receiving approaches from potential strategic partners and investors.

‘Aquaculture will be a growth platform’

In August, Gilberto Tomazoni, Global CEO of JBS, said the acquisition was strategic. “We will repeat what we did previously with poultry, pork and value-added products – to make our portfolio even more complete. Aquaculture will be a new growth platform for our businesses.”

Huon has invested more than AU$350m over the last five years in operational infrastructure and sustainable practices in the salmon production cycle, positioning the company for sustainable growth, reported JBS.

The salmon company has 13 production sites and three value-added product processing units. Besides a significant share of the Australian market, 15% of Huon's production is targeted at the export market.

The vertically integrated group already processes beef cattle, poultry, pigs and lamb in plants around the world.

JBS already operates in Tasmania, with a beef cattle processing unit at Longford. This is the company's second acquisition in Australia this year. In April, it purchased Rivalea, a leader in pig production.  JBS has had a presence in Australia since 2007 when It acquired the operations of Swift.

“There is huge complementarity with the other business we carry on in Australia, including customer relationships, distribution and marketing,”​ said Brent Eastwood, CEO of JBS in Australia, in August.

Related topics: Markets, Aquaculture, Australia

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