Mowi to sue Norwegian state over salmon tax

Mowi CEO Ivan Vindheim will take his battle against Norway's controversial ground rent tax to court in Oslo.
Ivan Vindheim speaking at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in March 2023. Photo: NASF/M.Wanvik.
Ivan Vindheim speaking at the North Atlantic Seafood Forum in March 2023. Photo: NASF/M.Wanvik.

Norwegian salmon giant Mowi is taking the Norwegian government to court over the controversial ground rent tax, it emerged today.

Speaking to Norwegian business newspaper E24, Mowi CEO Ivan Vindheim said Mowi planned to file a case against the Norwegian State at the Oslo District Court.

In a Norwegian-language interview, he called the tax deduction for smaller producers "discriminatory", saying "The government has been very clear in its rhetoric that it is the five big salmon companies that they want to hit."

He explained that leading legal experts had advised Mowi that it is against EEA rules that the smallest companies should be exempted from the tax. It is also contrary to the EEA "four freedoms" principle, including the free flow of capital, he said.

Vindheim's crusade against the salmon tax

Vindheim has been a vociferous critic of the controversial tax since it was first proposed almost a year ago by the Norwegian government, taking every opportunity to denounce the legislation as "bad for business".

He previously said that following the introduction of the 25% tax, Mowi would freeze all investment in Norway and focus its capex on operations overseas.

Speaking to WeAreAquaculture in May 2023, he said "We've put all the structural, large investments in Norway on hold until we know the outcome of the 2025 election. We cannot justify going ahead with investments that are too risky."

Mowi CEO vows to "demand equality before the law"

Now Vindheim has taken his opposition one step further, calling the tax "discriminatory" and demanding "equality before the law".

Focusing the tax burden only on the biggest companies means that they cannot follow through on investments, he says, meaning "it is not profitable to be big". But at the same time, forcing companies to split into smaller units will make for burdensome inefficiencies. "No one benefits from this," he said.

Vindheim said that Mowi owed it to their workforce as well as owners, suppliers and coastal communities in Norway to drive forward the legal battle.

"We cannot sit idly by and accept that the state is kicking the butts of development in this wonderful industry," he said.

Mowi's revenues soar to 1.3 billion euros in Q2

The legal crusade against the salmon tax comes despite Mowi's continuing astonishing financial success.

During today's Q2 announcement, Vindheim reported Mowi had achieved an all-time high revenue of 1,365 million euros, compared with 1,232 million euros in the corresponding quarter of 2022. Operational profit was also strong at 300 million euros in the quarter.

The company thus appears on track to beat its record-busting results for 2022, where Mowi passed the 1-billion-euro earnings mark for the first time in its almost 60-year history.

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