The nation’s largest privately held company, Cargill, has agreed to purchase Norwegian-based EWOS, one of the world’s largest suppliers of feed and nutrition for farmed fish. The $1.5 billion deal signals Cargill’s entry into salmon and trout markets and is the company’s second aquaculture deal in the past two months after it announced a $30 million shrimp feed facility project in Ecuador with Naturisa.
EWOS produces more than 1.2 million metric tons of fish feed a year and accounts for one-third of the world’s market for salmon and trout feed and provides feed and nutrition for 26 other fish species. The company currently employs over a thousand people and posted operating revenues of roughly $1.4 billion in 2014. With its home offices in Bergen, Norway, the company also operates in Canada, Chile, Vietnam, Norway and Scotland. Altor Equity Partners and Bain Capital acquired EWOS from the Norwegian fish farming group Cermaq in 2013 in a deal that valued the business at about 6.5 billion NOS, or roughly USD $793 thousand. During the first quarter of 2015 EWOS experienced negative change in cash flow due to increase in inventory, partly offset by a decrease in accounts receivables and increase in current liabilities. It reported inflows of NOK 4.5 million primarily due to proceeds from settlement of short-term bridge loan of USD 5.5 million granted to Nova Austral in December 2014.
Aquaculture accounts for about half of the global fish consumption, and with global demand for protein that’s set to grow by 70 percent by 2050, Cargill isn’t the first trade house expanding into the fish business. Mitsubishi Corp., Japan’s biggest trading house, agreed to buy the Norwegian fishery Cermaq ASA for $1.4 billion last year to expand its foods business and become the world’s second-largest salmon farmer.
With the acquisition of EWOS, Cargill will pick up three manufacturing facilities in Norway, and one each in Chile, Canada, Scotland and Vietnam, as well as two R&D centers in Norway and Chile. It’s also the second largest deal the company has made in its history. It purchased the Dutch animal feed company, Provimi, in 2011 for $2.2 billion.