ECONOMY

Movement seen in fish farming waters

The big fish in Greek aquaculture are expected to expand their horizons come September given that the Netherlands-based private equity fund Linnaeus Capital Partners has acquired a large percentage of their share capital.

Over the past few months, Greek fish farms have been reinvigorated after seeing the price of their product rise to 5 euros a kilo for gilthead bream and 5.50 euros/kilo for sea bass. At the same time, the leading players in Greek aquaculture — who are also ahead in the broader Mediterranean region — have also seen an increase in exports, which has significantly boosted bottom lines, with net profits increasing by 90 percent and turnover by 10 percent during the first quarter of 2011.

As far as their business plans for the near future are concerned, these will depend entirely on the outcome of negotiations with Linnaeus. The Greek companies have already pursued aggressive mergers, backed down and distanced themselves from a string of different scenarios over the past year, but ?predicting the next step is impossible,? according to a high-ranking executive at Nireus.

Selonda finds itself at the center of developments right now as Linnaeus has acquired 24.5 percent of its shares after the departure of Saudi Arabia?s Jazan Development Company.

Greek company Selonda has frequently stressed that it is in favor of mergers in the sector, though whether or not it will participate in the likely cycle of mergers expected as of September depends on whether Linnaeus takes on its major bank loans. If this does happen, the most likely scenario is that Selonda will merge with Dias, which is already controlled by the Dutch-based fund.

Nireus, meanwhile, has clearly expressed that it is not in favor of a triple merger and that it will not merge with Selonda.