* Repeats need for consolidation in Chile
* Open for new opportunities (Adds comments from Marine Harvest chairman)
OSLO, June 9 (Reuters) - Marine Harvest, the world’s biggest fish farmer, called off plans to merge its Chilean operations with AquaChile, it said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The parties have unfortunately not been able to reach a joint final agreement and the conditional transaction agreement has been terminated by mutual consent,” the Norwegian firm said.
Chairman Ole-Eirik Leroey declined to discuss the details of the disagreement but said several factors led to the breakdown in the process.
“Marine Harvest still believes in Chile as one of the global centres for salmon farming going forward. Accordingly, (it) will continue to develop its current farming assets in Chile through its wholly-owned subsidiary MH Chile.”
It added that it continued to believe that consolidation in Chile is a prerequisite for a profitable and sustainable industry.
The firms agreed on the deal in January, which would have given Marine Harvest a 42.8 percent stake in the combined entity and a production capacity of 260 thousand tonnes of salmon and 25 thousand tons of tilapia.
“First of all, we will focus on our current business in Chile. We made an acquisition before Christmas and we are working on the integration now,” Leroey said.
“Beyond that, we will emphasize the need for consolidation in Chile and we are open to look at new opportunities”, Leroey said.
Marine Harvest share were down 1.3 percent at 92.55 crowns at 0926 GMT, slightly underperforming a 1 percent drop in the Oslo benchmark index.
“It’s clearly negative that we don’t get consolidation with two of the biggest farming companies in Chile. Consolidation is needed to improve biological conditions and operations in Chile,” analyst Kjetil Lye in Handelsbanken said.
“It’s a little bit surprising they didn’t agree but there are always risks in these type of processes”, Lye said.