Global protein giant JBS is set to acquire its first aquaculture business globally following the Foreign Investment Review Board's approval of the proposed acquisition of Huon Aquaculture for $425 million. Huon shareholders will vote on the scheme at the AGM on Friday (29 October).
JBS announced the $425 million deal in August, offering $3.85 per share. Huon founders and major shareholders Frances and Peter Bender own around 53 per cent of the company said they were voting in favour if the scheme.
But within days of the announcement Andrew Forrest’s private investment business Tattarang bought more than 10 million shares and more than doubled Forrest’s voting power, enough to block JBS’ deal.
Forrest called on the protein giant to commit to certain animal welfare and sustainability standards.
JBS countered with a parallel offer with a 50.1 per cent minimum acceptance condition with the same offer price of $3.85.
The acquisition of Huon will be the global protein giant’s first foray into aquaculture.
Huon chair Neil Kearney welcomed FIRB’s decision.
“JBS has committed to maintaining our world-leading farming practices to support long-term sustainable growth. JBS also has the proven skills and expertise to access new international markets for Huon’s premium products,” he said.
JBS Australia CEO Brent Eastwood said the company welcomed FIRB’s decision, saying the company had a strong track record investing and growing Australian businesses, local jobs, and exports.
“We employ 11,000 Australians, many of whom live and work in regional and rural towns and communities. We have grown all of the businesses we have acquired in Australia and are committed to doing the same with Huon.”
“Peter and Frances Bender along with their team have built an amazing business and our aim is to build off this strong foundation. JBS has the commercial relationships and the ability to open up and access new markets which, combined with the Huon team’s knowledge and expertise, create a fantastic opportunity to take this business forward,” Eastwood said.
The company’s AGM is on 29 October at 10am.