ECONOMY

Fish farm talk is of mergers

Plans for fish-farming firms to join forces in order to find an exit from the crisis they have been facing in the last two years are reported to be in full swing. The crisis is mainly attributed to the continuing low level of fish prices, particularly by Spanish firms, but is made worse by the rise in fish-farming feeds which represent 60 percent of total production costs. A third and equally serious adverse factor is posed by the big loans which firms have taken out, mainly from the Piraeus, Agricultural and Commercial banks. The idea of joining forces belongs to Sifis Glyniadakis, chairman of Euroholdings and former chairman of Commercial Bank, who has obtained the agreement of Piraeus Bank Chairman Michalis Sallas, and is promoting the merger of Euroholdings with Sea Farm Ionian while also trying to bring in the other two big listed firms in the sector, Selonda and Nirefs. The talks, which have been going on for a month now, are reported to be making good progress. An agreement is likely to be announced next week, with a possible share swap between Sea Farm Ionian and Euroholdings, which reported the talks in a letter to the Athens Stock Exchange. Glyniadakis’s plan includes the launching of talks with Selonda and Nirefs. Selonda has a 20 percent interest in Sea Farm, which in turn holds 10 percent stakes in Selonda and Nirefs. Nirefs controls 25 percent of Hellenic Fish Farms. He believes that progress toward a merger will make the other three listed firms, Galaxidi, Dias and Hellenic Fish Farms, follow suit. Selonda’s Chairman and Managing Director Giorgos Stefanis’s salvage plan foresees a lineup with Nirefs and Sea Farm. «It is true that we have discussed such a scheme in the past, but I consider the ground better prepared now, given the high debt burden of listed firms,» he says. The prospect of a deal yesterday sent Selonda’s share soaring to close with gains of 13.33 percent, while Sea Farm Ionian and Nirefs gained 4.35 percent and 5.68 percent respectively.