Inlet Fish Producers sold to Seattle-based North Pacific Seafoods

Two Cook Inlet processing facilities will be added to a growing list of salmon production businesses owned by the Seattle-based North Pacific Seafoods.

The acquisition, announced June 30, will add the Kenai and Kasilof plants currently owned by Inlet Fish Producers to the five shore-based processing plants North Pacific Seafoods operates in Alaska.

North Pacific Seafoods is a subsidiary of the Japanese trading house Marubeni and the deal cost the company about $8 million, according to the Japanese business and financial publication Nikkei Review. John Garner, chief operating officer for North Pacific Seafoods, disputes the Review’s figure, but declined to give an accurate sale amount.

The deal is expected boost North Pacific’s salmon processing capacity to about 62,000 tons annually.

Negotiations have been ongoing for months as Inlet Fish Producers founder and owner Vince Goddard, who said he is close to retirement, sought a buyer.

Garner told Undercurrent News in May that the two companies were considering a sale. The plants will give North Pacific Seafoods its first foothold in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound salmon processing — a necessity for the sale, Goddard said.

“I wanted to basically have our operation remain intact and not be combined with a company that has overlapping footprints,” Goddard said. “There’s a lot of people that get left out of the equation when that happens.”

Goddard said he also was looking to sell to a company that maintained a strong presence in Kodiak. North Pacific owns Alaska Pacific Seafoods in Kodiak.

“When we have too much fish in Cook Inlet or Prince William Sound, it’s really important to have capacity in Kodiak to handle the overload,” he said.

Inlet Fish primarily buys from commercial drift fishermen in Cook Inlet, though Goddard said he also buys from shore-based setnetters. In Prince William Sound the majority of the company’s production comes out of the seine fleet, he said.

The acquisition is expected to boost North Pacific Seafoods’ sales by about 10 percent, Garner said. That should boost the company’s sales to about $227 million according to an acquisition announcement on 4-traders.com.

Goddard said he didn’t know of any plans to boost production in Bristol Bay where North Pacific Seafoods is a strong buyer.

“We’re mainly planning on expanding what we’re doing right here in Cook Inlet and Prince William Sound,” he said.

The Kenai plant has been operating under Goddard for 29 fishing seasons and the Kasilof plant since 1984, though Inlet Fish didn’t buy the Kasilof plant until 2002. When operating at peak capacity, the company employs about 200 people, he said.

Goddard will stay on with the company for the next few years and run its Cook Inlet operations.

“I’m pleased with the choice I made and I think all of our fishing fleet and our employees and the whole local community will be pleased with the choice also,” he said.

Rashah McChesney is the city editor for the Peninsula Clarion.

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