and Hans J Marter
21 February, 2008
THE ADMINISTRATOR brought in to run fish farming firm No Catch this week said he
hoped to have a new buyer running the company within the next six weeks.
world’s first organic cod farming business called in administrators Grant
Thornton on Tuesday after failing to find a new financial backer to meet its
debts of around £40 million.
Fears for the firm’s 130 staff eased last night as joint administrator Daniel
Smith expressed optimism that a buyer would be found shortly.
Mr Smith said the company had spent the past three years building up a strong
business which was about to bear fruit with “serious numbers of fish” just
reaching the point they were ready to harvest.
However the company ran out of cash at the crucial moment, and despite
struggling to find a backer during the past three months they had been forced to
call in the administrators.
He said it would be easier to sell No Catch now that there were no shareholders
looking for a return on their investment. Instead the new owner will be asked to
pay off the company’s debts, which include around £1 million owed to Shetland
Development Trust, all that’s left of an initial £2.8 million loan.
Yesterday afternoon Mr Smith said that he had already been contacted by several
interested parties, one of whom hoped to put together a bid before the end of
am in a good position in some respects in that a lot of the investment is
already there, it’s all about to come good, the projections and forecasts
demonstrate that is the case and I just need to find a buyer for the business,”
“Some of the discussions that the company were having prior to my appointment
had reached quite an advanced stage.
“I have met with one interested party who is looking to formulate a bid within
the next 48 hours, and I have also been contacted by other interested parties
who had previously looked at the business but were not interested in investing
at that juncture.
“Now they would be interested in buying the business back from the administrator
so the prognosis looks very good and I am very encouraged by the discussions I
have had to date.”
Mr Smith said it was an international firm which had shown the most interest so
far, and he hoped that a sale could be finalised within the next five or six
No Catch was set up in March 2005 after city investment firm Milestone Capital
financed a £21 million management buy out from Vidlin fish farmers Angus and
Ivor Johnson. Since then the company is understood to have brought in another
£15 million from banking interests.
The company launched an ambitious programme of investment, purchasing the NuFish
cod hatchery in Sandwick for £3 million and taking over Danny Watt’s processing
factory in Scalloway to run an integrated operation from larvae to fully grown
They also ran their own marketing drive under the brand No Catch…Just Cod,
suggesting their farmed cod could replace dwindling wild cod stocks. They hoped
to satisfy 10 per cent of UK demand for cod by 2012 with 30,000 tonnes of fish.
The company won backing from the Organic Food Federation, Friends of the Sea,
the RSPCA and the Marine Conservation Society for their environmentally friendly
approach to growing fish.
They won 14 awards in just 12 months and had recently started exporting to
Switzerland and Japan.