Cooke Inc., a New Brunswick company and parent of Cooke Aquaculture Inc., and Omega Protein Corporation, a nutritional product company and a leading integrated provider of specialty oils and specialty protein products, today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which Cooke will acquire all outstanding shares of Omega Protein for $22.00 per share in cash. The transaction price represents a premium of 32.5% to Omega Protein's closing share price on October 5, 2017. The Merger Agreement has been unanimously approved by the Board of Directors of each of Omega Protein and Cooke.
"We are very pleased to sign this agreement with Omega Protein," said Glenn Cooke, CEO of Cooke Inc. "Omega Protein will provide us with another platform in Cooke's growth strategy through further diversification in the supply side of the business. We believe this will be a very good fit between our two cultures. Omega Protein has a 100-year history with an experienced and dedicated workforce, which we value, and a tradition of operating in small, coastal towns and communities that we share. Their focus on sustainable aquaculture and agriculture and the production of healthy food is also a great fit with our experience and culture."
Cooke carries on the business of finfish aquaculture globally through its wholly-owned subsidiary Cooke Aquaculture Inc. The New Brunswick, Canada based Cooke family also has significant investments in wild fisheries globally through their ownership of Cooke Seafood USA, Inc. and Icicle Seafoods, Inc. Cooke Aquaculture Inc. is an aquaculture corporation founded in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada with salmon farming operations in Atlantic Canada (operated by its affiliate, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.), the United States (Maine and Washington), Chile and Scotland, as well as seabass and seabream farming operations in Spain. In 2015, Cooke Seafood USA, Inc. was created, and grew rapidly through the acquisitions of Wanchese Fish Company, Inc. in the USA and the assets of Fripur S.A., the largest fishing company in Uruguay. The Cooke family also acquired Icicle Seafoods, Inc. in 2016. The addition of Omega Protein serves as a perfect strategic piece for the Cooke family of companies.
"We are excited about the agreement, which we believe recognizes the value of Omega Protein's successful, 100-year-old fishing business and also provides stockholders with an immediate premium," said Bret Scholtes, President and CEO of Omega Protein. "Cooke is a family owned company and in many ways, reminds us a lot of ourselves and this agreement is the perfect fit for the two companies. Cooke is a highly-regarded and responsible leader in the global fishing and seafood industry."
The transaction – which is expected to close near the end of 2017 or early in 2018 – is subject to the approval of Omega Protein stockholders, certain regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
BMO Capital Markets is providing committed financing for the transaction.
BMO Capital Markets is serving as the buy-side financial advisor, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP is serving as legal counsel and Deloitte LLP is acting as financial and tax due diligence advisor to Cooke.
Jones Day is serving as counsel to BMO Capital Markets, and Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP is serving as legal counsel to Cooke, in connection with the committed financing.
J.P. Morgan Securities LLC is acting as exclusive financial advisor to Omega Protein and provided a fairness opinion to its Board of Directors. Vinson & Elkins L.L.P. is serving as legal counsel to Omega Protein.
About Omega Protein Corporation
Omega Protein Corporation (NYSE: OME) is a century old nutritional product company that develops, produces and delivers healthy products throughout the world to improve the nutritional integrity of foods, dietary supplements and animal feeds. Omega Protein's mission is to help people lead healthier lives with better nutrition through sustainably sourced ingredients such as highly-refined specialty oils, specialty protein products and nutraceuticals.
The Company operates seven manufacturing facilities located in the United States, Canada and Europe. The Company also operates more than 30 vessels to harvest menhaden, a fish abundantly found in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
About The Cooke Family of Companies
The Cooke Family of Companies includes global aquaculture divisions under Cooke Inc. and its wholly-owned subsidiary Cooke Aquaculture Inc. as well as a Canadian aquaculture division operated by its affiliate, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd. The Cooke family of companies also includes seafood divisions under Cooke Seafood USA, Inc. and Icicle Seafoods, Inc. Cooke Aquaculture is a vertically-integrated aquaculture corporation based in Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada with salmon farming operations in Atlantic Canada (operated by its affiliate, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.), the United States(Maine and Washington), Chile and Scotland as well as seabass and seabream farming operations in Spain. Aquaculture operations include land-based juvenile production, marine farms, processing and distribution facilities and a global sales and marketing team as well as a full value chain service and supply sector.