admitted felon Glenn Cooke

Cooke executives refuse to comment

The acquisitive Canadian salmon feedlot owner and processor Cooke Aquaculture is likely to be interested in up-for-grabs Icicle Seafood’s salmon farms, located on the West Coast of the US, where the Canadian firm is not present, sources said.

Cooke has been in the news of late as a result of their acquisitions in Spain, Chile and elsewhere, the guilty pleas of CEO Glenn Cooke and other senior execs  in a major pesticide poisoning case and the recent DFO report on the dangers of sea lice agent Salmosan, which Cooke is known to apply in their salmon feedlots by the tonne. 

With private equity group Paine & Partners looking to sell US harvester and processor Icicle, which it acquired in 2007, the seafood sector is rife with speculation as to whether Icicle will be sold as a whole or broken up into its various pieces.

Paine & Partners, which has just closed a new fund that it intends to use partly for deals in seafood, declined to comment to Undercurrent News on plans for Icicle. The private equity bought Icicle in 2007.

“If the company is broken up, Cooke will be interested, for sure,” one seafood sector veteran told Undercurrent, not wishing to be named.

Long rumoured to be up for grabs, executives at Seattle-based Icicle were told in a meeting earlier in the week that a formal sales process will be run for the company. “There was a sense that this was coming for some time,” one source close to the company told Undercurrent.

If a buyer cannot be found for the entire group, which also operates in pollock, wild salmon and crab, sources said good value can be derived from selling off the various parts, including the company’s American Gold Seafood salmon farming business.

The business produces over 6,000 metric tons of salmon a year in Puget Sound, with farms at Bainbridge Island, Cypress Island, Port Angeles and Hope Island, Washington.

Cooke, which is based in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, on Canada’s east coast, also has operations on the east coast of the US for salmon, as well as in Chile and the UK.

The Canadian firm has also expanded into seabass and seabream farming in Spain and is reportedly looking to snap up US scallops companies, as well as being linked with a move for stricken Chilean salmon firm Invermar.

A Cooke spokeswoman did not respond to Undercurrent’s request for comment.