Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Competition Tribunal says it has attached conditions to Sea Harvest’s acquisition of Viking Fishing Holdings to prevent the sharing of sensitive information with rival company Oceana.

On Wednesday, the tribunal said it held concerns about Brimstone Investment Corporation’s common shareholding interests in Sea Harvest and Oceana, which would be two of the top three firms in the local fishing industry following the merger. Brimstone owns and controls Sea Harvest and holds 17% of Oceana, according to Bloomberg data.

The tribunal said Brimstone "must ensure it does not appoint or nominate the same individuals to the board of directors of Sea Harvest and Oceana".

Further, representatives on the board would have to agree to maintain confidentiality over "competitively sensitive information", the tribunal said.

Sea Harvest bought Viking Fishing for an undisclosed amount and also acquired 51% of Viking’s aquaculture interests.

Viking Fishing, one of the largest family-owned fishing ventures in the country, operates 30 vessels in SA and Mozambique and has six processing facilities.

Its aquaculture interests include farming abalone, mussels, oysters and trout in SA and Namibia.

To help it diversify away from its core hake fishing business, Sea Harvest raised R1.2bn when it listed on the JSE in April 2017. The firm used the funds to repay preference share capital and accrued dividends, third-party debt and shareholder loans.

The acquisition of Viking Fishing comes ahead of the allocation of new fishing rights in 2020.

Viking Fishing entered Sea Harvest’s sights in 2017 as it fought a 60% cut in its hake trawling quota.

Shares in Sea Harvest fell 3.7% to close at R13.10 on Wednesday. Oceana’s shares closed 1.2% lower at R84.70.

hedleyn@businesslive.co.za