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Sealord has reached an agreement to acquire privately held Independent Fisheries. When completed, the deep-sea fishing company will be New Zealand’s biggest seafood business. Moreover, this will be the largest financial transaction in the seafood sector since the Sealord deal in 1992, which was part of the Maori Treaty Agreement.
The transaction is subject to the fulfillment of a number of conditions – including the authorization of the Commerce Commission and the consent of the Overseas Investment Office – so the settlement date is not yet known and depends on when these conditions and approvals are met.
Based in Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand, Independent Fisheries includes approximately 46,000 metric tons of quota – the fourth largest deepwater quota package in New Zealand -; two owned and one chartered deepwater factory fishing vessels; 500 plus vessel crew and staff; and a cold storage facility. Following the completion of the transaction and once within the Sealord Group, it will continue to be managed by its current employees.
Enhancing the connection with the moana in Aotearoa
Sealord CEO, Jamie Tuuta, said the company is an intergenerational fishing company, a position that will be further strengthened in the long term following the purchase of Independent Fisheries. “Our investment in Independent Fisheries is based on a strong belief in the business, the long-term sustainability of the commercial fishing sector in New Zealand and the ability to deliver increased returns to Sealord’s shareholders, half of whom are iwi,” he stated.
“Māori have a strong affinity with the moana, kaimoana and fishing. The fisheries settlement allocating iwi ownership of quota, including through the purchase of 50% of Sealord, underpins that cultural value system. This transaction grows iwi quota ownership, enhancing our strong connection with the moana in Aotearoa,” he continued.
An “incredibly unique” opportunity
For his part, Doug Paulin, CEO of Sealord, called the ownership of the Independent Fisheries business an “incredibly unique” opportunity. He noted that acquisitions of this type and quality are rare in offshore fishing. “The business is an excellent fit for Sealord both operationally and culturally,” Paulin said.
“Independent Fisheries has a strong family-based culture built over many years by the late Charles Shadbolt, who had a passion for looking after his people and the wider community, and I am confident that Sealord can continue this proud tradition,” Sealord’s CEO continued. “We look forward to welcoming Independent Fisheries employees to the Sealord whānau.”
Immediate synergies between the two companies
For his part, Independent Fisheries Managing Director, Mark Allison, said this is a proud moment for the company and its founding family, who have built it from humble beginnings to the successful company it is today. He claimed that the decision made by the board of directors and owners will enhance the future growth of the company.
“There are immediate synergies that Independent Fisheries and the Sealord Group of companies can utilise both internally and externally that will provide excellent opportunities for the existing staff, customers, and suppliers to grow with the Sealord Group,” he stated. “In practical terms this means streamlining catch plans, logistics and innovation, with an emphasis on loyal customer service, which has been the backbone of Independent Fisheries business since its establishment,” Allison concluded.
About Sealord & Independent Fisheries
Sealord is one of the largest seafood companies in the Southern Hemisphere. Specializing in fishing, processing, distribution, and marketing, it encompasses both sustainable deep-sea fishing and finfish aquaculture operations and exports 90% of its catch in various frozen formats to 40 countries. With fishing operations in New Zealand, Australia, and Mauritius, Sealord employs more than 1,000 people in New Zealand and 240 people overseas. The company collaborated with the New Zealand Government to promote fishing industry employment.
Founded by Howard Shadbolt, Independent Fisheries had its beginnings as a small fish and chip shop in the Christchurch suburb of Linwood in 1956. Since that time and under the management of the late Charles Shadbolt (Howard’s son) and Mark Allison, Independent Fisheries has grown into one of New Zealand’s major privately-owned fishing businesses, with the fourth largest deepwater quota package in New Zealand.
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