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Marine Harvest fish farm. (Photo: Marine Harvest/Steinar Johansen)

Ownership ceiling of salmon firms to be modified

Click on the flag for more information about Norway NORWAY
Thursday, December 13, 2012, 03:10 (GMT + 9)

The Norwegian government is planning to allow salmon firms to own over 25 per cent of the total production capacity of the sector, conforming to European Union (EU) rules, which would allow the country’s biggest Atlantic salmon producer, Marine Harvest, to expand its Norwegian operations.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Coastal Affairs announced it “will soon submit for comment proposed amendments to the Aquaculture Act to provide authority for change of ownership control regulations.”

The Ministry claims that the proposed rules would boost the coastal economies while not affecting the smaller fish-farming firms, reports Reuters.

The rules, which become progressively tougher depending on a fishery's share of total ownership, would include such demands as investments in research and other regional job-promoting schemes.

A company owning 15 to 20 per cent of the standing biomass, for example, would have to process on average 25 per cent of its fish in a coastal district over five years. The requirement increase progressively as the ownership increases, reaching 40 per cent for companies owning 35-40 per cent of the biomass, reports Undercurrent News.

"Marine Harvest is positive to the new regulations and believes the changes will strengthen local communities and scientific research and create value both for the companies and Norway as a fish-farming nation," said the firm.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) challenged Norway's ownership rules in July, claiming that the government had not been able to prove that ownership ceilings are suitable or necessary.

Kolbjoern Giskeoedegard, an analyst at Nordea, said "this was a victory for Marine Harvest, who challenged the government. The government is obviously bent on taking charge and comes with a proposal where increased ownership is linked to increased onshore activity."

Norwegian salmon producers such as Cermaq and Salmar have experienced share price increases, since they are seen as potential acquisition targets for Marine Harvest.

Cermaq was up 5.9 per cent and Salmar 3.6 per cent, while Marine Harvest shares gained 2.2 per cent.

Norway exported over USD 5 billion worth of salmon last year, two-thirds of it to other European countries.


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