Meat giant JBS’s proposed acquisition of Huon Aquaculture has hit a snag, with Dr Andrew Forrest’s private holding company Tattarang buying more than 10 million shares in the salmon business.
The move more than doubled Forrest’s voting power – from 7.33 per cent to 18.51 per cent, enough to block JBS’s takeover.
Late Friday (6 August), JBS lodged its acquisition plans to buy Huon outright for $425 million through a scheme of arrangement.
Huon founders and major shareholders Frances and Peter Bender own around 53 per cent of issued shares and are voting in favour of the scheme. The board has also unanimously recommended the offer.
Tattarang only bought into Huon in June, when it purchased just over 8 million shares. Forrest said his initial investment in Huon was driven by the unsustainable environmental practices used in the salmon farming industry and the belief Huon was taking a lead to rectify that.
“Huon have demonstrated they want to be leaders in the pursuit of sustainable salmon farming practices but my aspirations for this company are even greater. And there are a range of steps that can be taken by new ownership to achieve this,” Forrest said.
He as called for the replacement of fish in fishmeal, moving to completely carbon neutral production and applying leading animal welfare standards and practices.
“And then JBS, the largest animal protein company in the world, appeared,” Forrest said.
With the JBS offer lodged on Friday evening, Forrest said he became even more determined and doubled his stake.
“I say to JBS, will you commit to make Huon environmentally neutral, to not rest until there is no fish in your fish meal… Will you commit to removing the environmental negatives which currently exist with salmon farming in Huon, to continue the journey of its founders.
“And even more importantly, JBS, will you commit to removing the pain and fear in all your beef processing operations.”
Tattarang’s investment team will continue to review the specific shareholder offer as part of its investment position.
Huon shareholders will have the opportunity to vote on the scheme at a shareholder meeting, expected to take place in October.