Cooke to acquire Australia-based Tassal Group

Deal would add 40,000 metric tons of salmon production annually to Cooke’s portfolio

Cooke Inc., parent company of Cooke Aquaculture Inc. of New Brunswick, Canada, and Tassal Group Ltd. of Australia, have entered into a definitive agreement under which Cooke will acquire all outstanding shares of Tassal for AUD5.23 (US$3.63) per share in cash. The transaction price represents a premium of 49% to Tassal’s undisturbed closing share price on June 22, 2022.

Listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Tassal is the largest vertically integrated seafood producer and blue agri-tech business in Australia. With more than 36 years of experience, Tassal employs more than 1,700 people in Tasmania and Australia who farmed 40,000 metric tons of Atlantic salmon and 5,500 metric tons of black tiger prawn in 2021 for domestic and export markets including Asia, New Zealand and U.S.

Tassal distributes salmon and prawns through its De Costi Seafood business in Lidcombe, New South Wales, Australia, where it also sources and processes a wide range of seafood. Salmon is offered as fresh deli-grade, fresh packaged and smoked for supermarkets. Prawns are distributed through supermarkets, delicatessens, and fish markets under the Tropic Co. trademark.

Tassal’s salmon farms span five marine zones, four freshwater hatcheries and four processing facilities in Tasmania, while prawn farming, processing and seafood processing is undertaken in New South Wales and Queensland.

“Tassal is an excellent fit with Cooke, as we see many similarities between our two companies. Our people and communities are very comparable as well, with agriculture, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry prominently supporting export-driven economies,” said Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke Inc.

“Our family-owned company is keen to have the opportunity to continue to grow Tassal from the strong base the employees, management and board have created,” added Cooke. “We have demonstrated acquisition history where Cooke has left operations management in place for continuity. We are highly impressed with the quality of Tassal’s infrastructure, people and culture.”

“We understand completely that the Tasmanian fish farming industry is Australia’s most valuable seafood production sector, and our top priority will be to work with other producers and government regulators on continuous environmental improvement plans as well as strengthening supply chain and local community relationships,” Cooke said. “We intend to make strategic investments in engineering, science and technology to further enhance Tassal’s capabilities, in addition to growing their sales reach through leveraging our worldwide seafood distribution channels.”

“We believe in sustainably produced food and in responsibly harnessing our precious water resources. Our responsible business blueprint sets out how we will do this to ensure a prosperous, healthy planet for future generations,” said Mark Ryan, managing director and CEO of Tassal. “Combining our two companies’ people-first cultures and our shared passion for producing top quality seafood, is a natural fit. A future acquisition by Cooke enables Tassal to fast track our goal to be one of the world’s most transparent and sustainable protein producers.”

At 115,000 metric tons annually, Cooke is the sixth largest farmed salmon producer in the world and, like Tassal, all Cooke feed mills, hatcheries, farms and processing operations are accredited by third-party organizations. The Tassal acquisition would put Cooke at 155,000 metric tons — closing in on becoming a top five producer. In 2021, the world’s demand for low carbon footprint, affordable, nutritious protein, resulted in more than 4 million metric tons of farmed salmon produced globally by all companies.