* Talks continue between Marine Harvest and Cermaq
* Marine Harvest wanted Cermaq without Peru's Copeinca
* Cermaq board rejected Copeinca acquisition last week
(Adds Cermaq CFO quotes, background)
OSLO, May 27 Norwegian fish farmer Marine
Harvest will go ahead with its hostile $1.7 billion bid
for local rival Cermaq if current talks with management
and key shareholders fail, the company said on Monday.
"If no material progress is made shortly, Marine Harvest
intends to immediately launch its original offer of 104 crowns
|(a share)," it said in a statement.
"In an attempt to find an amicable solution acceptable to
all parties, Marine Harvest has conducted discussion with both
selected shareholders and the company.
"These talks have so far not given any conclusion but the
parties have agreed to continue the discussions," it said.
Marine Harvest has offered to buy Cermaq for 9.62 billion
crowns ($1.7 billion) on condition that it walks away from its
own bid for Peruvian fish feed firm Copeinca, an acquisition
that would have made Cermaq a pricier target and brought a
complexity that Marine Harvest was not prepared to take on.
Both Marine Harvest and Cermaq have said a tie-up makes good
industrial sense but differed over the bid for Copeinca and the
proposed price, which Cermaq said undervalued the company and
gave its shareholders too small a share of potential efficiency
But Cermaq's board failed last week to gain the necessary
two-thirds majority support from its own shareholders for the
Copeinca acquisition at its annual general meeting, paving the
way for Marine Harvest to proceed with its offer.
However the companies then entered talks with a view to
resolving their differences.
On Monday Marine Harvest did not say which Cermaq
shareholders it was in talks with, although the Norwegian
government, which is a key shareholder with 44 percent of
Cermaq, had previously rejected Marine Harvest's cash and share
offer valued at 104 crowns per share.
"It is too low," Cermaq's chief financial officer reiterated
on Monday. "Most of our shareholders share that view."
Valderhaug declined to say what would be a satisfactory
offer or how the talks were going.
Marine Harvest's offer includes 52 crowns in cash plus
shares in Marine Harvest worth 52 crowns up to a maximum of
8.814 Marine Harvest shares for every Cermaq share, with the
offer conditional on Marine winning an acceptance level of above
33.4 per cent of Cermaq.
($1=5.8329 Norwegian krones)
(Reporting by Gwladys Fouche and Ole Petter Skonnord; Editing
by Greg Mahlich)