27/10/2021 - 15:05

Tattarang firm on welfare as takeover looms

27/10/2021 - 15:05

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Andrew Forrest says he will hold out on approving JBS Group’s proposed takeover of Huon Aquaculture until JBS brings its animal welfare and sustainability commitments up to standard.

Tattarang firm on welfare as takeover looms
Andrew Forrest owns a significant stake in Huon Aquaculture through Harvest Road. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Andrew Forrest says he will hold out on approving JBS Group’s proposed takeover of Huon Aquaculture until JBS brings its animal welfare and sustainability commitments up to standard.

Mr Forrest holds an 18.5 per cent stake in the Tasmanian salmon farmer through Harvest Road, meaning he is unlikely to be able to block the ongoing takeover bid due to be decided by shareholders this Friday.

Huon and JBS received the all clear from the Foreign Investment Review Board earlier this week, leaving shareholder approval as one of the last remaining obstacles.   

Other major shareholders, including Huon directors, have indicated they will vote in favour of the $3.85 per share cash takeover and have urged shareholders to do the same.

In the same breath, the Tattarang chair said he had also committed to a new $100 million land-based finfish production facility, effectively competing with that of Huon.

Project scoping and feasibility studies said to be underway for the venture, which Tattarang said would give consumers a sustainable alternative to current marine farming practices.

Mr Forrest reiterated his position on animal welfare and said his bid for Huon had not been to create a rival takeover position.  

“I invested in Huon because I believed they wanted to be leaders in truly sustainable salmon farming,” he said.

“But the industry change I want to achieve goes beyond just one company, in one jurisdiction.”

He said that only a clear commitment by JBS in respect to its global operations would give Tattarang sufficient confidence to reconsider its position.

“My message to these massive protein producers remains clear: your animals deserve ‘No Pain, No Fear’ in their life cycle, and your customers expect you to change the management of your business to accommodate this,” he said.

Tattarang says it will continue to consider its position regarding the bid.

Huon shares last traded at $3.85.

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