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Thursday, July 15, 1999 Published at 13:30 GMT 14:30 UK


Business: The Company File

Dutch firm nets salmon producer

Marine Harvest McConnell is a world leader

The world's second-biggest salmon farming and processing firm has been taken over in a 32.7m deal.

Marine Harvest McConnell, which employs 800 people in Scotland and 700 in Chile, has been sold to the Dutch company Nutreco.

Marine Harvest McConnell was put up for sale by its parent company Booker plc last year after a squeeze on profits and a decision to concentrate on its cash and carry business.

But it has taken much longer than expected to find a buyer and the sale price is significantly lower than analysts had expected.


[ image: The firm is a major producer in Scotland]
The firm is a major producer in Scotland
Booker Chief Executive Stuart Rose said: "The sale of Marine Harvest McConnell is the final major element of our programme for the disposal of non-core businesses which is now nearing completion ahead of schedule."

Nutreco Aquaculture is a market leader in the four main salmon fish feed markets - UK/Ireland, Chile, Canada and Norway.

Marine Harvest McConnell Managing Director David Windmill said: "Nutreco has shown a long-term commitment to international fish farming and we look forward to being part of the world's leading aquaculture company."

Last year, Marine Harvest McConnell produced more than 43,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon, representing about seven per cent of the global total.

Two-thirds of production is based in Scotland, where the company has a 30% share of the market, the rest in Chile with a 12% share.

Renewed confidence

The takeover has been welcomed by the Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Iain Robertson, who said it gave renewed confidence in the industry.

He said: "The purchase will remove many of the uncertainties which have faced Marine Harvest McConnell's 800-strong workforce and help re-stabilise the aquaculture industry.

"As one of the largest private sector employers in the Highlands and Islands, MHM makes an invaluable contribution to employment in many of the fragile parts of our area including Lochaber and the Western Isles."

Mr Robertson said Nutreco were already an important contributor to the Highland economy through their feed manufacturing operation in Invergordon.

Investment for growth

He added: "Their move into fish farming in our area looks very much like an investment for growth rather than consolidation.

"We look forward to working with them to develop and advance the aquaculture industry of the Highlands and Islands."

Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Ray Michie said: "Finding a buyer has been a rather long process, so I will be looking to Nutreco to offer some much needed stability.

"A swift announcement about their future plans, indicating in particular their intentions in terms of employment, would be widely appreciated."



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