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SANTIAGO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Chile's largest salmon producer AquaChile said on Monday it was no longer pursuing a controlling stake in Invermar, prompting the smaller rival's shares to plunge.
AquaChile, which had said in October it would seek to strike a deal with Invermar's creditors to gain a controlling stake and that it would pursue a capital increase of $30 million for the purchase, provided no reason for negotiations coming to a halt.
"With the deadline established in the agreement for carrying out the analysis process and the necessary negotiations to finalize the potential operation having expired, the parties did not extend the agreement, which is why it was terminated," AquaChile said in a filing with securities regulator SVS.
Invermar's shares dropped 42 percent on the Santiago Stock Exchange on Monday after AquaChile said the deal had fallen through.
Chile is the world's No. 2 salmon exporter.
Fish farming stocks have been in high demand this year as global demand for salmon, perceived as a healthy protein alternative to meat, outpaces production.
That has spurred some consolidation in the fragmented Chilean sector. Earlier this year, Norway's Marine Harvest bought up the assets of a bankrupt Chilean company for $120 million, while Mitsubishi Corp offered $1.4 billion for Norwegian fish farmer Cermaq.
Cermaq has significant operations in Chile, and analysts saw the buy as a stepping stone to further consolidation. (Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Peter Galloway)