Australia's foreign investment review board (FIRB) has given the go-ahead for Huon's proposed acquisition by Brazil-based meat processor JBS Group.

The approval came hours after the protein giant upped its stake in the Australian salmon farmer to 41.53 percent.

The Huon board has proposed to shareholders that JBS acquires up to 100 percent of the company at a price of AUD 3.85 ($2.88/€2.48) per share, by way of concurrent schemes of arrangement and an off-market takeover bid being run in parallel.

FIRB has confirmed to JBS that the Commonwealth has no objection to JBS' proposed acquisition of Huon under either method.

The deal, however, could still potentially be blocked by Australian agricultural heavyweight Tattarang, which upped its stake in the salmon producer to 18.5 percent in the wake of the proposal and indicated it might not let the deal go ahead.

On Aug. 6, Huon announced it had entered into a scheme implementation deed with JBS to acquire 100 percent of Huon shares, the result of a six-month review process initiated by the Huon board following a number of unsolicited approaches.

Huon's board issued a statement two weeks later indicating its continued support of a takeover by JBS Group, despite apparent opposition from Tattarang and interest from Canadian salmon heavyweight Cooke Aquaculture.

Tattarang's owner, West Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, has also questioned aspects of the animal husbandry practices of JBS and environmental standards of Huon and the salmon industry in Tasmania.

But for Huon's board, all of which are behind the buyout, the approval is a step in the right direction.

“The FIRB decision is another important step in securing the future of Huon, our 800-plus employees and the hundreds of Tasmanian businesses that work with our company," said Huon Chairman Neil Kearney.

"In addition to its commitment to invest in the business and our people, JBS has committed to maintaining our world-leading farming practices to support long-term sustainable growth. Importantly, JBS also has the proven skills and expertise to access new international markets for Huon’s premium products.”

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