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Icelandic Group sells U.S. Operations

Icelandic Group plc. (the „Group“) has sold its operations in the United States and the related procurement and manufacturing businesses. The buyer is the Canadian seafood company High Liner Foods (TSX:HLF). The transaction is valued at approximately US$ 230 million, the equivalent of ISK 26.9 billion.

Icelandic Group will continue to own the Icelandic Seafood™ brand. High Liner will have the right to use the brand in the United States, Canada and Mexico for the next seven years. In addition, High Liner Foods has entered into a long-term distribution agreement with Icelandic Group on the purchase of Icelandic marine products to ensure that producers in Iceland will continue to have the same access to the U.S. market as they do today.

The sale includes Icelandic USA’s processing plant in Newport News, Virginia, as well as related procurement and manufacturing businesses. Icelandic Group’s U.S. and Asian operations had sales of US$ 268 million in the last twelve months ending September 2011 and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Adjusted EBITDA) of US$ 24.8 million. The purchase price consideration will be paid in full in cash and will partly be used to reduce debts associated with the sold assets.

Finnbogi Jónsson, CEO of the Enterprise Investment Fund: “The sale of the Icelandic Group´s operations in the United States and related businesses is the final step of a strategic process that the owners and managers of Icelandic Group have been working on all this year. Our goal has been to strengthen the financial position of the Group and sell manufacturing units that hold little strategic value for the Icelandic fishing industry. This sale together with the sale of assets in Germany and France earlier this year, means that the Group has now divested itself of assets in the total amount of approximately ISK 41 billion this year, out of which ISK 21 billion have been paid for by assumption of debts. We will use the remaining cash to lower the Group´s debts further and to return part of the initial investment to the pension funds and other owners of the Enterprise Investment Fund.”

Herdís Fjeldsted, Chairman of the Board of Icelandic Group: “The sale of the U.S. operations is an important step for Icelandic Group and in line with the strategy presented by new owners earlier this year.  We have been focused on streamlining the Group´s operations, reducing debt, increasing profitability and minimizing risk in the operations. Services to Icelandic producers are an important element of our operations, and our distribution agreement with High Liner will ensure continued access for Icelandic producers to the North American markets. No less importantly, the agreement ensures that all marine products sold under the Icelandic Seafood™ brand will continue to meet the strict quality standards as before, a core reason for the brand’s strong market position.”

In March of this year, Icelandic Group plc engaged Merrill Lynch International (“BofA Merrill Lynch”), a subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation, to act as financial advisor to the Group in connection with a review of strategic alternatives. These strategic alternatives were to include, among other things, divestment of one or more of the Group’s businesses as well as equity financings. The sale of the Group’s operations in the United States and related businesses forms part of this review. The transaction is subject to the approval of the competition authorities in the United States. Merril Lynch International is acting exclusively for Icelandic Group plc in connection with transaction and for no one else and will not be responsible to anyone other than Icelandic Group plc for providing the protections afforded to its clients or for providing advice in relation to the transaction.

Further information:
Finnbogi Jónsson, Iceland Enterprise Investment Fund CEO, tel. +354-571-7080
Herdís Fjeldsted, Chairman of the Board of Icelandic Group, tel. +354-571-7080
Pétur Th. Óskarsson, tel. +354-863-6075

About Icelandic Group:
Icelandic Group is an international company with a history of almost seven decades in the Icelandic fisheries industry. The company operates both in the retail market and in the catering and restaurant sector. Icelandic Group produces and sells fresh, chilled and frozen marine products around the world, and in recent years the company has expanded its development of more complex and value-adding seafood meals for the retail market. At the end of 2011, when the company’s assets in the United States and related operations have been sold, the company will have operations in Iceland, Europe and Asia and the total turnover of Icelandic Group will be an estimated ISK 80 billion.

About High Liner Foods Incorporated
High Liner Foods Incorporated is a leading North American processor and marketer of prepared, value-added frozen seafood. High Liner's branded products are sold throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico under the High Liner(®), Fisher Boy(®), Mirabel(®), Sea CuisineTM and Royal Sea(®) labels, and are available in most grocery and club stores. The Company also sells its High Liner(®), FPI(®), Mirabel(®), and VikingTM food service products to restaurants and institutions, and is a major supplier of private label seafood products to North American food retailers and food service distributors. High Liner Foods is a publicly traded Canadian company, trading under the symbols HLF and HLF.A on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
http://www.highlinerfoods.com

 

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