Iceland’s IS Haf Investments buys 53% of land-based Thor Landeldi

Icelandic seafood-focused private equity fund IS Haf invests undiclosed sum in land-based salmon venture Thor Landeldi, planning a 20,000 ton facility in southern Iceland.
Thor Landeldi team pictured with IS Haf Investments. Photo: Arctic Finance.
Thor Landeldi team pictured with IS Haf Investments. Photo: Arctic Finance.

The Icelandic seafood investment fund IS Haf Investments, operated by Iceland Funds, has announced it has acquired a 53% stake in Icelandic land-based salmon company Thor Landeldi for an undisclosed sum.

The IS Haf private equity fund, whose key backers are Icelandic seafood giants Brim and UR Seafood, has chosen the land-based salmon project as one of its first key investments, following launch of the fund in early 2023.

Thor Landeldi's hatchery operations will start in 2024

Thor Landeldi plans to develop a 20,000-ton salmon farm near Thorlákshöfn, in southwest Iceland. The IS Haf Investments capital will be used to fund its first phase of development, constructing a hatchery on Thor Landeldi's 20.3 hectare site at Laxabraut, west of Þorlákshöfn.

"The project is currently undergoing environmental assessment and it is expected that first salmon roe will be received in the hatchery in the fall of 2024," IS Haf announced in a press statement.

The ambitious land-based project is led by a group of three Icelandic entrepreneurs with plenty of previous experience in aquaculture and seafood. Two of these formerly worked for Ice Fish Farm (Fiskeldi Austfjarða): Jónatan Þórðarson, previously head of aquaculture and Þórður Þórðarson, former managing director. The third member of the group, Halldór Ragnar Gíslason, is a fisheries scientist who most recently worked in the fisheries team in Arion Banki's corporate finance division.

Iceland's developing land-based salmon sector needs "strong investor participation"

IS Haf fund is Iceland's first seafood-focused private equity fund, and was launched earlier this year announcing its intention to make three major investments during 2023.

Commenting on the decision to invest in the land-based venture, Kristrún Auður Viðarsdóttir, managing director of IS Haf Investments noted that Iceland's salmon farming sector is rapidly taking off.

"The fast-developing salmon farming sector in Iceland requires a strong investor participation alongside industry experts, Viðarsdóttir said in a press statement.

"There is a great need to strengthen the infrastructure of salmon farming to keep up with its foreseeable growth, and the smolt production is a basic prerequisite for the successful growth of salmon farming both on sea and land. IS Haf's investment in Thor Landeldi marks the beginning of a journey which is integral to the development of this recent high-growth industry," she added.

Large-scale land-based salmon farming predicted to be a "high growth industry" in Iceland

"Representatives of Thor Landeldi welcome IS Haf's involvement in the development of the company, which paves the way for the company's ambitious plans to develop large-scale land-based salmon farming," said Farming Manager Jónatan Þórðarson.

"Land farming of salmon is one of the most environmentally friendly options for producing high-quality protein today. A lot of experience has already been gained in Iceland thus far and it is therefore a very interesting option for investors," Þórðarson added.

IS Haf Investments' advisor for the investment was Deloitte, while Arctica Finance were advisors on the seller side. Among other investors in the project are Norwegian investors with "considerable experience" in salmon farming, Frank Yri, Chief Commercial Officer of Seaborn, and Alex Vassbotten, Chairman of the Board of Seaborn.

Runólfur Viðar Guðmundsson, Managing Director of IS Haf Investments' "cornerstone investor" UR Seafood, said the project brought together "Iceland's most experienced salmon farmers", adding, "we are creating a framework to maximize the likelihood of profitable investment in this new industry in Iceland."

About IS Haf Investments

IS Haf investments slhf. is a fund that was established in February 2023 and is operated by Iceland Funds (Íslandssjóðir hf.). The fund, which is 10 billion ISK in size, invests in seafood and ocean-related activities on a broad basis. Investments will be distributed among five categories within the sector, from fishing and aquaculture to high technology, infrastructure development, marketing, and marine biotechnology. The largest investors in the fund are Icelandic pension funds together with Brim hf. and UR Seafood (Útgerðarfélag Reykjavíkur hf.) which is a cornerstone investor in the fund.

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