Mi’kmaq First Nations group, Premium Brands to buy Clearwater Seafoods for $1 billion

The Canadian Press

HALIFAX – Premium Brands Holdings Corp. and a group of Mi’kmaq First Nations have banded together to buy Clearwater Seafoods in a billion-dollar deal the seafood company’s chairman says is a step towards “advancing reconciliation in Canada.”
The deal announced Monday would be the largest investment in the seafood industry by a Canadian Indigenous group and comes eight months after Halifax-based Clearwater said it was exploring a possible sale.
The Mi’kmaq First Nations coalition, led by the Membertou First Nation, and Premium holdings will each acquire half ownership of Clearwater through the new partnership FNC Holdings Ltd.
Membertou First Nation Chief Terry Paul called the purchase of Atlantic Canada’s largest fishing company “a transformational opportunity for the Mi’kmaq.”
In a statement, he said the deal will allow Mi’kmaq “to become significant participants in the commercial fishery through the investment in existing infrastructure, management expertise, and a global market presence,.”
The $1-billion sale, including debt, would see Clearwater shareholders receive $8.25 per share which represents a 60.2 per cent premium to the average volume-weighted average price for the 20-day period preceding the strategic review announcement on March 5.
The transaction has received unanimous approval of Clearwater’s board and is subject to approval by Clearwater shareholders in January.
The Mi’kmaq expect to hold Clearwater’s Canadian fishing licences within a fully Mi’kmaq-owned partnership.
Paqtnkek, Pictou Landing, Potlotek, Sipekne’katik, and We’koqma’q have confirmed their intention to participate with Membertou and Miawpukek in the investment.
“I am very pleased to recommend this transaction. It represents great value for shareholders, leverages the expertise within the company while advancing reconciliation in Canada,” said Clearwater chairman Colin MacDonald.
“I am confident that this transaction will enhance the culture of diversity and sustainable seafood excellence that exists at Clearwater.”
Each of Clearwater’s directors, the CEO and chief financial officer, which control 63.9 per cent of outstanding shares, have entered into agreements to vote in favour of the transaction.
Premium Brands said it will raise $250 million of new equity capital from a $200-million bought deal public offering and a $50-million concurrent private placement with CPP Investments.