Norwegian firm Ewos, which employs about 60 people at its Bathgate facility, is being acquired by US agricultural commodities group Cargill, which said the purchase marked its commitment to the growing aquaculture industry.
Cargill, based in Minneapolis, has agreed to buy Ewos from private equity firms Altor and Bain Capital, which teamed up to acquire the business two years ago in a move that valued it at about £500m.
Ewos chairman and Altor partner Hugo Maurstad said: “We have learned a lot from working with Ewos over the last few years, and remain enthusiastic about the growth prospects of fish farming and the importance of fish feed to ensure sustainable growth of farming.
“We believe Cargill will become a very good owner of Ewos in the next phase of the company’s development. Altor and Bain Capital will remain invested in the fish farming sector through its ownership of Nova Austral in Chile.”
The Norwegian firm, founded in 1931 across the border in Sweden, produces more than 1.2 million metric tonnes of salmon feed for the biggest producers in the world.
“As well as its Bathgate manufacturing facility, the company has three production sites in Norway and one each in Canada, Chile and Vietnam.
Sarena Lin, president of Cargill’s feed and nutrition business, said: “Ewos is a winning company. Adding its industry-leading talent and capabilities as well as its thought leadership in sustainable business practices will be transformational for our aquaculture nutrition business.
“We are looking forward to welcoming 1,000 highly talented and passionate Ewos employees to the Cargill animal nutrition team and strengthening our research and development capabilities and accelerating the pace of innovation to drive strategic long-term growth for Cargill’s animal nutrition business.”
She added: “With the need for protein expected to grow by 70 per cent worldwide by 2050, farmed fish and shrimp offers one solution to meeting this demand, and Cargill intends to play a major role in this growing and important market.”
Cargill has been active in the UK since 1955 and employs more than 3,000 people south of the Border. Its operations on this side of the Atlantic include food ingredients and industrial products.
The group also owns investment firm CarVal, which last month teamed up with Bank of Ireland and Goldman Sachs to buy a portfolio of loss-making Irish commercial loans from Lloyds Banking Group for £827m.
The Ewos deal is expected to complete before the end of the year, subject to approval from regulators. Einar Wathne, chief executive of the fish feed producer, said: “Cargill and Ewos will create a new, world-class aqua feed supply capability that will support the growth potential for fish and seafood consumption and create new opportunities for customers and employees alike.”