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Premium Brands and Mi’kmaq First Nations Acquiring Clearwater Seafoods

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Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada-headquartered Clearwater Seafoods has entered into a purchase agreement with FNC Holdings Limited Partnership, representing a coalition of Mi’kmaq First Nations and Premium Brands Holdings Corporation. The deal calls for acquisition of all stock of the company at $8.25 per share in a transaction valued at approximately $1.0 billion (Canadian currency), including debt.

The price represents a 15% premium to the closing quote for Clearwater shares on Canada’s TSX stock exchange on November 6, 2020, the last trading day prior to the announcement of the sale, and a 60.2% premium to Clearwater’s average volume-weighted average price for the 20-day period preceding the strategic review announcement on March 5, 2020.

This strategic investment represents a transformational change in Canadian fisheries, catapulting First Nations into a leading global position in the seafood industry with the largest holdings of shellfish licenses and quotas in Canada.

Founded by John Risley and Colin MacDonald in 1976, Clearwater is one of North America’s largest vertically integrated seafood companies and the largest holder of shellfish licenses and quotas in the nation. Employing approximately 2,000 people, it is recognized globally for superior quality products, food safety, diversity of species and reliable worldwide delivery of premium wild, eco-certified seafood, including scallops, lobster, clams, coldwater shrimp, langoustine, whelk and crab.

“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 Colin MacDonald, Clearwater’s chairman of the board.

“Clearwater is a world class seafood company with a great management team, best-in-class products and a globally respected brand,” said George Paleologou, president and chief executive officer of Premium Brands. “We will use its value-add expertise, brand development capabilities and extensive customer relationships to continue to grow this leading global seafood company. We are proud to partner with the Mi’kmaq First Nations communities in this unique opportunity to enhance First Nations’ participation in commercial fisheries while at the same time building the seafood portfolio within the Premium Brand ecosystem.”

Premium Brands has been busy acquiring seafood companies in recent years in a strategy apparently aimed enhancing its position on the North American lobster scene. In the last few years it has added Ready Seafood, Maine Coast, Hancock Gourmet Lobster Co., Viandex and North Delta Seafood to its portfolio.

“This is a transformational opportunity for the Mi’kmaq to become significant participants in the commercial fishery through the investment in existing infrastructure, management expertise, and a global market presence,” said Chief Terry Paul of Membertou First Nation. “Mi’kmaq not only become 50% owners of the company, but expects to hold Clearwater’s Canadian fishing licenses within a fully Mi’kmaq-owned partnership. This collective investment by First Nations in Clearwater represents the single largest investment in the seafood industry by any Indigenous group in Canada. Each of Paqtnkek, Pictou Landing, Potlotek, Sipekne’katik, and We’koqma’q have confirmed their intention to participate with Membertou and Miawpukek in this historic investment.”

“We are very excited about working with Premium Brands and the participating communities to continue to grow and strengthen our business while preserving our culture and community presence,” said Ian Smith, president and chief executive officer of Clearwater.  “Furthermore, this partnership ideally positions us to continue building on the legacy created by Clearwater’s founders.”