March 18, 2015

Bids lining up for Icicle Seafoods

Bids lining up for Icicle Seafoods

Second round bids are due in for Icicle Seafoods in the next two weeks, according to sources at the Boston seafood show.

Four processes are running at the same time, sources said. One process is for the whole company, another for its salmon farms, a third for the wild salmon operations and a fourth for the whitefish part of the business.

The hope from Icicle’s owner Paine and Partners, which recently closed another fund that it intends to focus partly on seafood investments, is for the sale process to be closed soon, sources told Undercurrent News.

There are US companies interested in buying the whole thing, as well as foreign players, sources said. A big talking point at the Boston show was how foreign companies would structure a deal for the pollock quota-owning part of Icicle, but that does not seem to be stopping interest. Foreign companies can only own 25% of US quota holders.

Major foreign players interested in the deal are Thai Union Frozen Products and Mitsubishi, sources said. 

As reported previously, Pacific Seafood is seen as having a strong rational to buy Icicle, with Trident Seafoods also billed as a likely interested party, but it appears these two are sitting back to see how the due diligence period goes for the other offers.

Names in the hat for the salmon farming part of the company include Cooke Aquaculture and Mitsubishi, which now owns Cermaq.

Trident’s size in pollock means this part of the Icicle business might be off limits, however. 

Canadian Fishing Company (Canfisco), owned the Jim Pattison Group, the third-largest privately held company in Canada, is also being billed as an interested party. 

British Columbia-based Canfisco already has three plants in Alaska and is also a big player in Canadian salmon.

Copper River Seafoods had expressed interest, but it is not clear if this is ongoing.

Whoever ends up with Icicle, either the entire company or in parts, the ownership by an industry firm and not a financial investor was largely welcomed during Boston.