Alaska Native Corporation Sealaska has acquired New England Seafood International Limited (NESI), one of the largest UK seafood suppliers, the groups announced Friday.
Bristol Bay Native Corporation - $1.7 billion
Arctic Slope Regional Corporation - $2.6 billion
NANA - $1 billion*
Chugach - $920 million
Cook Inlet Region Inc. - $439 million
Calista - $480 million
Sealaska - $293.4 million
Doyon Limited - $290.5 million
Koniag - $267 million
Ahtna - $238 million
Aleut Corporation - $211 million
Bering Straits Native Corporation - N/A
Source: Alaska Business Monthly
*Some of NANA's income is dispersed to other Native corporations
NESI is a London-based supplier of fresh and frozen premium sustainable fish and seafood to retailers and leading food-service brands, according to the announcement.
“One of the biggest challenges facing humanity is how to feed, water, educate and house a growing population on a finite planet,” Sealaska COO Terry Downes said of the deal.
“Enormous social, environmental and economic value is possible when strong, like-minded organizations join forces across the world to make a bigger difference. Solving our most pressing problems requires working together with a global mindset.”
NESI Founder Fred Stroyan will retain a stake in the company. Stroyan will also stay on as a member of NESI’s board of directors.
Key members of the company’s leadership team, including NESI CEO Dan Aherne, will continue in their roles. NESI’s brand will remain independent and continue its three-decade journey, according to the entities.
Joining forces will offer both businesses increased access to resources, broader product and category capabilities and deeper market access, according to the announcement. The enlarged seafood group and enhanced management capacity provides opportunity for further investments to build on successes.
New England Seafood reported a 10 percent fall in its 2019 full-year operating profits, however, the group said it was satisfied with the performance "given the challenging trading conditions of the UK high street."
Overall, the group's operating profit before exceptional items and amortization dipped to £5 million (€5.5 million/$6.3 million) in the year ending October 2019.
Turnover increased 4 percent year-on-year to £161 million (€178 million/$204 million) as the company focused on growing its retail segment and offerings.
Sealaska has been on an ambitious growth run in recent years. In 2017, the group acquired a majority interest in Odyssey and Tokusui Corporation of America, owners of US frozen seafood supplier Orca Bay Seafoods. Sealaska later merged Orca Bay and Odyssey in an effort to gain greater efficiencies and economies of scale, it said.
The new entity combined the people and plants of Odyssey and Orca, in addition to Seattle processor Independent Packers Corporation (IPC), in which Sealaska also owns a stake.
Alaska's 12 Native Corporations have significant investment funds at their disposal. The corporations, created under a federal law in 1971 called the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, employ 58,000 people worldwide, according to the Alaska Resource Development Council. They are the state's largest landowners, and combined corporate revenues for the companies is estimated at over $8 billion (€6.9 billion).
The groups' pot of money has been invested over the past four decades in assets both good and bad. However, recent years have shown a significant increase in sophistication of the management of the groups, in part because of an influx of a younger generation more eager to grow the groups.
Last year, the Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC) acquired Clipper Seafoods and Blue North Fisheries, two of the largest harvesters and marketers of hook-and-line Pacific cod in the United States, and combined the group into a new entity, Bristol Bay Alaska Seafoods.
That group, headed by ex-Icicle Seafoods CEO Amy Humphreys, has reportedly been looking at additional acquisitions, and has looked at among other assets Alaska pollock giant American Seafoods, though the talks stalled in August.