Thai Union Group noted a loss on its discontinued Ghana fleet operation for the 2016 financial year, confirming it as for sale.
In December 2015 sources told Undercurrent News the firm was looking to run a sale process for the fleet, but the company had not confirmed. According to its 2016 accounts, the decision to divest the Ghana fleet was made in December 2016.
In April 2016, Thai Union also said it would pull out of Ghana unless the African nation secured a trade deal with the EU.
Thai Union noted a loss of THB 271.9 million ($7.75m) on the Ghana fleet, listing it under “non-current assets classified as held-for-sale and discontinued operation”.
The subsidiary comprising the fleet is now a discontinued operation, and a sale contract and memorandum of understanding were signed for the sale of the vessels in December 2016, it said.
“The group expects to dispose all relating assets in the year 2017. The assets and liabilities classified as disposal group held-for-sale…are mainly boats, equipment, inventory, other assets and other liabilities.”
In December 2015 — when sources first suggested Thai Union would look to divest the fleet — it looked a tough sell “given the terribly low prices for tuna at the moment,” according to one tuna sector veteran. That month, skipjack prices in Bangkok reached a low point of $950 per metric ton.
Since then it has been a very different story, with prices hovering around $1,450-$1,500/t for most of 2016, and reaching $1,750/t in February 2017. However, the outlook for March deliveries is for a steep drop.
“The interest is to get entry to Ghana waters. The boats would be sold with a fish sales agreement in place with MW Brands Tema plant,” a second source told Undercurrent at the end of 2015.
“The cost of the boats is dragging MW Brands [former name for Thai Union Europe] down. It wasn’t the cost of the fish they really paid, but the bigger cost of keeping the boats going, so their actual fish price was much higher,” he said.
According to sources, there had been interest in the fleet from Asian, European and Latin American bidders.
One name mentioned by several sources as a possible interested party was Silla, the South Korean company that already operates in Ghana with interest in the Panofi fishing fleet and Cosmo Seafoods cannery, also in Tema.