New CEO - focusing Aker Seafoods in two companies

June 25, 2010 11:19
Thomas Farstad has been appointed as the new president and CEO of Aker Seafoods ASA, and the board has resolved to continue developing the seafood group through two independent businesses, reports with reference to Aker Seafoods.
"We're very satisfied with the appointment Mr Farstad as chief executive," says Aker Seafoods chair Frank O Reite. "He has detailed knowledge of the seafood industry and leadership experience from listed companies. These are important qualifications for the job of improving our profitability."
Mr Farstad is currently the post of acting chief executive in Marine Harvest, and will be joining Aker Seafoods during the course of the year.
"Liv Monica Stubholt has done an impressive job as our acting chief executive," says Mr Reite. "She and her management team, together with our union representatives, have conducted a thorough process to identify improvement areas. The outcome is that the group will be developed as two independent companies."
Cultivated as two companies
Processing and sales will be demerged into a separate company under the name Norway Seafoods AS. At its creation, this company will be wholly owned by Aker Seafoods. The transaction takes effect from the end of June/beginning of July.
Norway Seafoods will be under the leadership of Thomas Farstad.

Harvesting will remain a separate business area in Aker Seafoods under the leadership of Trond Williksen, currently executive vice president for harvesting in the group. This business comprises 12 trawlers in Norway and two in Spain, with a total of approximately 400 employees. Operating revenues are about NOK 600 million per year. The restructuring does not impact delivery obligations for trawlers and other licensing terms. 
Agreements between the two companies will be entered into at market terms and employee rights will be maintained in each of the companies. Furthermore, the Norway Seafoods workforce will have boardroom representation in Aker Seafoods.
Focusing the business through two companies does not in itself generate any need for additional financing, however Norway Seafoods will be financed on a stand alone basis. 
Norway Seafoods
The restructuring will ensure that Norway Seafoods is established as market-oriented processing business which provides the basis to participate in the necessary restructuring of the Norwegian seafood processing industry. Strategic collaboration with new partners and investors will be considered and a stock market listing could be relevant for Norway Seafoods in the longer term.
Norway Seafoods will be responsible for operation of 11 factories and fish receiving facilities in Norway, three facilities in Denmark and two in France. The company will have about 1 200 employees in all, including 670 in Norway, and operating revenues in excess of NOK 2 billion per annum.
Transactions related to the creation of Norway Seafoods are being implemented at fair value, which is expected to correspond to book values at group level. Employees and assets related to the harvesting business will be retained in the harvesting company Aker Seafoods. That applies to trawlers, premises with an associated activity obligation, and other items significant for maintaining harvesting rights.
Employees, production equipment and all assets associated with onshore fish processing and sales, including premises without significance for maintaining harvesting rights, will be transferred to Norway Seafoods. Premises with an activity obligation will be leased from the harvesting company.
"This restructuring will place us in a better position to strengthen our fresh-fish strategy, and thereby increase deliveries from the coastal fishing fleet to the factories," says acting chief executive Stubholt. "I also expect the new company to increase its share of high-margin products.

Formalisation of changes to bank financing and approval of the new operating company by the Norwegian Food Safety Authority ('Mattilsynet') are expected to be finalised in the near future.
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