The board of the NTS integrated aquaculture group has unanimously recommended that its shareholders should accept the takeover offer on the table from SalMar.
Unless someone comes back in with a higher bid in the next few days or there is a dramatic new shareholder development, it looks as is SalMar chief Gustav Witzøe will move another step closer to capturing the prize that looked as if it might elude him only a few weeks ago.
But he may have to wait before cracking open the champagne. Within an hour of the NTS board’s acceptance a group the Øie Nilsen family called for another extraordinary general meeting with the aim of electing a new board. They have already tried to do this, at an earlier EGM on 18 March, without success.
NTS founder Helge Gåsø, who holds 37% of the shares and is no fan of Witzøe has yet to announce his own preference.
While another twist to this fascinating battle cannot be ruled out, most observers think Witzøe will be successful, making SalMar the world’s second largest Atlantic salmon farming business.
At a price of NOK 15.1bn (£1.25bn), the deal will hand him Norway Royal Salmon, one of the most exciting of Norway’s salmon businesses, Arctic Fish of Iceland, another Norwegian farming operation in SalmoNor along with the aquaculture vessel and equipment supply company Frøy.
NTS issued a statement at the weekend stating: “The board has reviewed and evaluated the submitted offer from SalMar, and in the review has taken into account an external assessment made by Pareto Securities AS.
“A unanimous board has concluded that the terms and conditions of the offer reflect the financial and strategic value of NTS and recommends the shareholders to accept the offer.”
Pareto Securities has concluded that the offer price is reasonable from a financial perspective.
Among the NTS board members who have accepted the offer are Chairman Nils Martin Williksen, NTS Chairman; Roald Dolmen; Solvår Hallesdatter Hardesty; and Vibecke Bondø.
The NTS board also said that Salmar has no immediate plans to make changes to the NTS Group’s workforce and does not expect that the offer will have any legal, financial or work-related consequences for the employees of NTS, beyond ordinary business operations.
That statement will certainly be welcomed by the workforce who feared many would lose their jobs if the Mowi bid had been successful.