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NZ Leading Tuna Company Could Suffer USD 31 Million In Losses

A USD 31 million loss is forecast for Sealord, the Maori co-owned deep fishing company. It is thought the firm will have no choice than to either sell its Argentinean hoki operation or be forced into bankruptcy. Either option for its business is likely to consequent in the huge financial loss.

Sealord is the second largest seafood company in New Zealand in terms of catch, and its “Sealord” canned tuna brand is the market leader, with most of its cans imported from Thailand.

Board chairman Matanuka Mahuika and chief executive Graham Stuart met Aukland Iwi (Maori tribe) as part of a national road show. The focus was on explaining why there will be no dividend this year, the first time since 2001.

Sealord CEO Graham Stuart

As part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement in 1992, half of Sealord is iwi owned. The other owner, Tokyo-based Nippon Suisan Kaisha. is reported to be attempting to exit the company. Graham Stuart said its intention was to “cauterize the wound and move on.”

Mahuiki explained that Sealord wanted to be out of Argentina by the end of the company’s financial year, next month.

The number estimated for the final loss to the business is USD 31 million. This included the prospect of a commercial sale of two boats which added uncertainty to the final damage.

Sealord began as a small partner in Yuken in 2000 and later in 2009 became the 100 percent owner. This came when the Argentinean shareholder went bankrupt that year.

Stuart said that with hindsight the company should have left in 2008, but held on with the tempting but ultimately illusory hope of selling out. He added that “The situation has deteriorated where there are now no buyers…The whole industry is in a catastrophic state.”