Norwegian salmon producer Nordlaks is to invest in Atlantic Sapphire part of the money set aside to buy a grow-out permit in Norway at next autumn’s auction. Its Board Chairman, Kjell Bjordal, has confirmed that this investment across the Atlantic is related to the wealth tax now being introduced on licenses owned by Norwegian private fish farmers. With an investment of $15.3 million (MNOK 150), Nordlaks will be one of the shareholder companies investing up to $125 in the land-based salmon farmer Atlantic Sapphire to complete phase 2 development of its Bluehouse in Miami, United States.
Not all eggs in one basket
Nordlaks is Norway’s largest privately owned aquaculture company with almost 700 employees. However, according to a statement issued by the company, its Board Chairman believes that the framework conditions for Norwegian aquaculture, in general, and for Norwegian-owned aquaculture companies outside the stock exchange, in particular, are becoming increasingly uncertain. “We no longer see any connection between the political ambitions of the industry and the way the industry is managed. We, therefore, have doubts about whether it is wise to continue to have all our eggs in one basket”, said Kjell Bjordal. He added: “We see that it can quickly become more interesting to compete on a level playing field outside than with a handicap at home. We, therefore, took a limited position in Atlantic Sapphire, where we invested some of the money we had set aside for the auction this fall to buy a growing permit in Norway”.
Along the same line of opinion are statements by the company’s CEO, Eirik Welde. “Nordlaks is located in the best area in the world for fish farming. At the same time, we see that the framework conditions for further development of privately owned aquaculture companies in Norway, in particular, make it more interesting than ever to evaluate investment opportunities outside our own business and abroad”, he said.
Circumstances and an investment opportunity that have favored the Norwegian company’s presence in Atlantic Sapphire’s shareholding, something that satisfies its CEO and co-founder, Johan Andreassen. “The investment from Nordlaks is a vote of confidence. We are impressed by Nordlaks’ operational history and look forward to having them as a significant shareholder in the company”, he told to WeAreAquaculture.
First time for Nordlaks in land-based aquaculture
Atlantic Sapphire has developed and constructed a land-based facility in Miami from 2017 to the present. Phase 1 of the Bluehouse in Homestead, Florida, was completed and is now operational. Phase 2, which this investment will be used for, has experienced some delays due to concrete shortages but remains on track. When this Phase 2 is completed, the target is an annual production of 25,000 tons of salmon. In the long term, by 2031, the company has the ambition to produce 220,000 tons of gutted salmon. Its objective is to deliver sustainably to the American market through its Bluehouse Salmon brand.
Until now, Nordlaks has never invested in land-based aquaculture. The company currently has fish farms in 12 municipalities in Nordland and Troms, all of them at sea. However, Nordlaks has been very attentive to this new business possibility and, more specifically, to the Norwegian company whose Miami facility they will now support with their investment. “We have been following Atlantic Sapphire from the beginning. In our opinion, they are one of the most advanced players in land-based agriculture. They also have a good location in their Miami facility, with good logistics to cover the American continent. Not least, they have access to a good water source and an area available to further increase production. We believe that the company has good conditions for success with its development plans”, said Eirik Welde.
“We are used to the risk of innovation as a few steps forward are quickly replaced by one or two steps back when it comes to creating something new. Atlantic Sapphire is many years ahead of its competitors and we believe that few have the same chances of success”, added Bjordal.
They will not leave northern Norway
However, even if this investment for a U.S. facility comes out of part of the money set aside for next fall’s purchase of a growth permit in Norway, the company wanted to make it clear that it will not abandon the country. “For more than 30 years, Nordlaks has done what we have believed to be in the country’s interest, through job creation and value creation of local Norwegian ownership primarily in Northern Norway”, said Kjell Bjordal, which is why, and despite the doubts raised regarding the new tax, the Chairman, has said that they would very much like “to continue to build Northern Norway”.
A stance reinforced by statements from the company’s CEO, Eirik Welde, that this overseas investment “will not divert our focus from the work of building a strong and competitive Nordlaks based on where we are and what we know best”.