Province approves sale of FPI to Ocean Choice and High Liner

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The provincial government announced Thursday it has officially approved the sale of Fishery Products International Ltd. (TSX:FPL) assets to High Liner Foods Inc. (TSX:HLF) and Ocean Choice International, finalizing a deal the province says will usher in a new era of stability to its fisheries.

The companies reached an agreement with the province earlier this year to sell FPI's marketing arm to High Liner for $158 million, while its harvesting licences, vessels, primary processing plants will be sold to privately held Ocean Choice for $143.5 million.

ST. JOHN'S - The provincial government announced Thursday it has officially approved the sale of Fishery Products International Ltd. (TSX:FPL) assets to High Liner Foods Inc. (TSX:HLF) and Ocean Choice International, finalizing a deal the province says will usher in a new era of stability to its fisheries.

The companies reached an agreement with the province earlier this year to sell FPI's marketing arm to High Liner for $158 million, while its harvesting licences, vessels, primary processing plants will be sold to privately held Ocean Choice for $143.5 million.

Provincial legislation required government approval before the sale and breakup of FPI, a company created more than 20 years ago from the shells of previous seafood companies.

FPI's shareholders unanimously approved the sales in October.

Plunging fish prices, fierce competition from overseas, rising fuel prices and a high Canadian dollar have led to a lack of work for FPI's nearly 2,000 employees.

The province hopes a series of clauses it negotiated as part of the sale will protect workers' jobs and ensure the future of the fisheries.

For example, the agreement guarantees that High Liner will keep operating a secondary processing plant in Burin where there are almost 200 factory workers.

FPI's groundfish quotas will be transferred to a company owned 49 per cent by the provincial government and 51 per cent by Ocean Choice. That arrangement requires Ocean Choice to land its quotas in the province for the next nine years.

And Ocean Choice must keep primary processing factories in the small communities of Port aux Choix, Triton, Bonavista, Port Union and Marystown and South Dildo for a minimum of five years.

The facilities employ a total of 1,300 people.

Organizations: Fishery Products International, TSX, High Liner Foods Inc. Port Union

Geographic location: ST. JOHN'S, Burin, Port aux Choix Marystown South Dildo

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