JOHANNESBURG – South African fishing and food company Sea Harvest said yesterday that the group was well positioned for further growth after its 2018 acquisition spree saw its asset surge from R2.6billion to R4.85bn in the year ended December.

The company said that the growth of its asset portfolio in the period under review was in line with its organic and acquisitive growth strategy.

Sea Harvest chief executive Felix Ratheb said that the group continued to make sizeable investments aimed at securing the sustainability of the business well into the future.

“These included acquiring two sizeable businesses, namely Viking Fishing and Viking Aquaculture; taking ownership of our second Sterkoder freezer vessel, which extended Sea Harvest’s reach in the international market; and implementing efficiency projects, including a technology upgrade from Iceland in our main Saldanha Bay factory,” Ratheb said.

“This positive result was achieved after having to absorb significant once-off transaction and restructuring costs.”

Viking Fishing and Viking Aquaculture were founded in 1978 and 2012, respectively.

In February, the company said that it had made a bid to acquire the remaining 44 percent of shares in Australian shrimp fishing group Mareterram.

Ratheb said that he was confident of the value that a combination of Sea Harvest and the Viking Group would generate through the complementary nature of the fishing businesses and the diversification into other wild caught species and aquaculture.

“The group has accounted for the 51percent interest as a non-wholly-owned subsidiary, with its results from July 2, 2018, being fully consolidated with that of the group’s results. The group has elected to measure the non-controlling interest in Viking Aquaculture at its proportionate percentage of the recognised amounts of the acquiree’s identifiable net assets.”

Sea Harvest said the deal with Viking allowed it to broaden its empowerment reach. The deal saw the creation of two new 100 percent black-owned entrants into the South African fishing sector. The company said the Viking Staff Trust paid out R120m to 835 employees and a further R38m worth of Sea Harvest Group shares was allocated to a new Viking Staff Trust.

The group also co-founded the South African Fisheries Development Fund, established to support small, medium and micro enterprises in the small-scale fishing sector in the period.

The company reported headline earnings of R278million for the year, an increase of 18 percent compared to the same period last year. The group said its revenue for the year grew 21percent to R2.58bn from R2.13bn in the comparative period while operating profit grew 16percent to R389m from R334m.

Sea Harvest shares dropped 1.03percent on the JSE yesterday to close at R13.50.

BUSINESS REPORT