Cooke Aquaculture has increased its stake in Tassal, the Australian salmon and shrimp farming business.

The Canadian seafood giant has secured a further 6.2 million shares in the Tasmanian-based Tassal.

This latest move equates to just over a 10% holding worth an estimated AUS $30m million (£17.26m), according to financial reports from Australia. It is being seen as enough to block a compulsory acquisition from another takeover bid.

In the past few weeks Tassal has turned down a new takeover offer from Cooke, estimated to be worth AUS $4.85 a share (£2.79). Tassal said the offer did not reflect the value of the business and was not in the best interest of shareholders.

Financial analysts in Australia maintain that Cooke will have to offer around $5 a share (£2.88) if it is to succeed.

Tassal is one of Australia’s largest aquaculture businesses, employing around 1,700 people and has a turnover of around AUS $583m (£335m).

Cooke has been keen to get a foothold in Australia’s growing aquaculture business for some time. Last year it missed out on Huon, another large Tasmanian salmon farmer which was sold to the Brazilian meat giant JBS.

There is also domestic concern over the prospect of another Australian business falling into overseas hands. The Tasmanian Alliance for Marine Protection was quoted in the Mercury, a local news agency, raising concerns that Tassal, which is listed on the Australian stock market, would be less transparent if it became part of Cooke, a private, family-owned business.

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