EMEA: Antin Infra lands salmon farming support company

03 September 2018 - 12:00 am UTC

Antin Infrastructure Partners has agreed to acquire a majority stake in Sølvtrans, a Norwegian operator of boats used in the salmon farming industry, from alternative asset management firm Oaktree Capital Management.

Antin and Oaktree, which announced the deal in a joint statement on Monday (3 September), said Sølvtrans has the world’s largest fleet of wellboats, a specialised vessel for the transportation of fish. It has around 21 wellboats in operation and employs around 300 people, with operations in Norway, Scotland, Chile and Australia.

Antin managing partner Mark Crosbie said the company exhibits all the characteristics Antin looks for in a portfolio company.

The company has exposure to the strong increase in protein consumption worldwide and a robust position as the leading global operator in the market, he said.

Sølvtrans operates wellboats that are used to transport young salmon to farms at sea and then transport them back for processing. It also provides specialised services such as sea lice treatment. It benefits from contracts of around five to 10 years with salmon farmers and an experienced management team, having been co-founded by current chief executive in 1986. Competitors include Scottish operator Johnson Marine and its Norwegian peer GripShip, which earlier this year agreed to merge.

Salmon farming is an unusual area for infrastructure investors to target although infrastructure funds have invested in operators of support vessels in other sectors, for example Esvagt, a Danish energy support services vessel operator backed by AMP Capital and 3i Infrastructure.

Financial details of the Sølvtrans transaction were not disclosed. Halsebakk and chairman Anders Hvide will continue in their current roles and remain “substantial shareholders”, Antin and Oaktree said.

Sølvtrans reported revenue of NOK739.6m (EUR 76.1m) for 2018, up from NOK 410.8m the previous year, while operating profit rose to NOK 345.3m from NOK 185.2m.

Inframation understands that Antin agreed to buy the company after a bilateral process although other infrastructure investors had also been considering bidding for it. The acquisition is being funded with a mix of debt and equity.

Oaktree bought Sølvtrans in 2014 in a deal valuing the company at around $100m. Previously it had been listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange.

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