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Business / Scottish Sea Farms to become isles’ largest salmon farmer in £164m deal

Scottish Sea Farms operation at Slocka in Ronas Voe. Photos: Scottish Sea Farms

MORE than 200 local Grieg Seafood employees are set to transfer to Scottish Sea Farms as the Norwegian owned aquaculture business becomes Shetland’s largest salmon producer.

Both companies confirmed late on Tuesday that the sale of the UK operation of Grieg Seafood ASA had been agreed for a purchase price of £164 million.

The transaction means that there are just two salmon farming companies left in Shetland, Scottish Sea Farms and Canadian-owned Cooke Aquaculture.

Grieg Seafood announced in the autumn of last year that it wanted to sell its operations in Shetland and Skye to focus on their farming activity in Norway and Canada.

The sale includes 21 marine farms, a freshwater hatchery at Girlsta and a processing facility at Lerwick, harvesting approximately 16,000 tonnes of salmon in 2020.

Scottish Sea Farms said the acquisition complements its own operations located across mainland Scotland, Shetland and Orkney, which produces approximately 24,000 tonnes of salmon.

Scottish Sea Farms chief executive Jim Gallagher: ‘Landmark step’.

Chief executive Jim Gallagher described the transaction as a “landmark step” in the company’s long-term strategy, “giving us greater influence over several key biological factors including fish health, stocking regimes and sea lice management”.

He added: “We’re very much looking forward to pairing the skill and know-how of our existing farming and fish health teams with the local expertise within Grieg Seafood Hjaltland UK, working as one to benefit fish welfare and boost survival.

“This, in turn, will ensure a more secure and stable supply of salmon for our discerning customers the world over, helping satisfy the insatiable demand for this highly nutritious, low carbon food.”

Meanwhile, Grieg Seafood said it was confident the Shetland operations would be in good hands and continue to create value for local communities for years to come.

Grieg Seafood ASA chief executive Andreas Kvame said: “Grieg Seafood Shetland has worked diligently on improvements across the board over the last years, which are now bearing fruits with higher survival, lower sea lice levels and more sustainable operations. I am pleased that we are handing over operations in good shape.

“I am pleased that another innovative and responsible salmon producer like Scottish Sea Farms will take over the operations.”

Managing director of Grieg Seafood Shetland Grant Cumming said: “I want to thank all employees for their impressive efforts, hard work and dedication over the last years, and especially during the pandemic.

“I am delighted that the future of Grieg Seafood’s salmon production is in the safe hands of Scottish Sea Farms and I look forward to salmon farming continuing to play a major role in the future of Shetland and Skye’s economy.”

The transaction is expected to be concluded before the end of the year, and it still needs clearance from the relevant competition authorities. Business will go on as usual.