A rumour is doing the rounds of the tuna market of the potential of a merger or possible take-over involving two Mauritius-based tuna plants, one of which is Thon des Mascareignes, largely owned by Mauritian conglomerate, Ireland Blyth Ltd (IBL).
Princes Mauritius and Thon des Mascareignes could possibly be seen joining forces on the island, with the latter connecting a strong tuna brand to its operations, and Princes reaping the benefits of an increased production capacity, a better access to raw material, and a possible lock in with a potential future Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified tuna fleet. Both companies would also be able to create major synergies and cost savings at the management levels.
Wholly owned by Japanese Mitsubishi, Princes has a tuna cannery on the Indian Ocean island, but lacks its own tuna fleet supplying its processing facility. In the UK, Princes battles with John West for tuna brand leadership. As a canned food manufacturer and distributor, Princes is active in UK, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands. It produces and markets an extensive line of canned products such as seafood, meats, fruits and vegetables, mostly under its own Princes brand.
Thon des Mascareignes (TDM) similarly has a tuna plant on the island, capable of processing 200 MT of tuna per day, and is 25% owned by Echebastar, a Spanish fishing company. This fleet of four super seiners, excusively active within the Indian Ocean, is currently in full assessment for MSC certification, and supplies tuna raw material to the TDM factory.
The island collaboration could see Princes, a brand increasingly focusing on the sales of MSC products, gain possible exclusive access to a supply of MSC certified products, once the MSC assesssment of the Echebastar fleet concludes on a positive note.
The remaining shares of TDM belong to the IBL group, one of the largest conglomerates in Mauritius, with seafood and marine segment being its main operating sectors. The TDM plant primarily focuses on the production of tuna loins, with some tuna canning and packaging in jars taking place as well.
As one of the biggest companies in Japan and even across the world, most of the rumours point towards the acquisition being initiated by Mitsubishi, Princes’ owner. After a series of merges having taken place within the European tuna market, Princes, as a smaller player, risks being pushed to the side by larger companues such as Bolton/Trimarine or TUF/MWBrands. Synergy on the island with TDM could be seen as a lifeline for it to avoid being swallowed by competitors, and enlarging production capacity and raw material supply – two essential elements for any expansion.
As much as 70% of the 800,000 cans the Princes Factory produces daily are currently being shipped to the UK, while the remaining 30% have other European countries as their destination. Princes supplements its own production with tuna bought from canneries in Ecuador, Thailand and Philippines. A take-over of TDM would bring a part of this production to Mauritius.
Image (IBLMaritime): Princes supplements its own production with tuna bought from canneries in Ecuador, Thailand and Philippines and a take-over of TDM would bring a part of this production to Mauritius.
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