More on the takeover of Huon salmon
Written by: Duncan B. on 17 August 2021
The takeover of Tasmanian salmon producer Huon by Brazilian meat producer JBS has taken an unusual twist.
Billionaire iron ore miner Andrew Forrest, who holds a PhD in marine biology, has intervened. Forrest’s investment firm Tatterang already held a 7% shareholding in Huon, but Forrest recently doubled this shareholding in an apparent challenge to JBS. Forrest wants JBS to agree to a list of environmental and animal welfare improvements he desires for the company.
We are not talking small fry here.The Tasmanian salmon industry is a billion dollar industry employing over 1500 workers and producing over 50,000 tonnes of salmon per year. Salmon has the highest gross value at the farm gate of any agrifood commodity at over $700 million, far outgrossing beef, dairy or wool.
There are three main producers of salmon in Tasmania, Tassal, Huon and Petuna. Tassal recently reported a rise in revenue to $594 million, although net profit fell 50% to $39.6 million. Tassal blamed the effect of COVID on the world salmon market for the fall, together with higher airfreight costs, but predicted a turnaround this year.
JBS is not squeaky clean. Four years ago JBS was involved in a bribery and corruption scandal in Brazil which resulted in millions of dollars in fines and gaol sentences for its controlling shareholders. JBS has also faced claims of involvement in slave labour, illegal deforestation and questions about its animal welfare practices.
Meanwhile, allegations are being made that many of the companies busily engaged in buying Australian farms, water and agribusinesses are taking advantage of the use of overseas tax shelters such as Jersey, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands to avoid tax. Some of the companies involved are vigorously denying these allegations, claiming that they pay tax where required in Australia.
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