Nova Scotia-based seafood giant Clearwater Seafoods explores possible sale

HALIFAX — After receiving “several expressions of interest,” Nova Scotia-based seafood giant Clearwater Seafoods Inc. announced Thursday it is exploring a possible sale of the company.

In a news release, the company said it has formed a special committee of independent directors as part of a strategic review.

It said the committee’s options include a sale of all or a portion of Clearwater’s assets in either one transaction or a series of transactions an outright sale of the company or a merger. The committee will also examine joint ventures, licensing arrangements and various financing alternatives or significant transactions.

In an email, Clearwater spokeswoman Christine Penney said the board had determined it was “timely, prudent and in the best interest of the company and stakeholders to initiate the strategic review process now.”

“The company had a very good year in 2019 and is well positioned for future growth. We have ambitious plans for 2020 and beyond, and the board supports those plans and is focused on continuing to enhance shareholder value.”

Penney added that Clearwater’s board has expressed continued support for management and employees.

“The announcement does not result in any changes to current work plans, projects, locations or employment — for the operations of the company it is business as usual and we are focused on continuing to deliver quality results and build the value of the company,” she said.

The company cautioned “there are no assurances or guarantees” that the review will result in a transaction.

It said the special committee had engaged RBC Capital Markets as its financial adviser and Halifax law firm Stewart McKelvey as its legal adviser.

Clearwater, which harvests lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops, clams and sea cucumber, reported sales of $616 million in 2019.

Founded in 1976, it’s one of North America’s largest seafood companies and is the largest holder of shellfish licences and quotas in Canada.

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