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Orkla and Kverva to Acquire PHARMAQ

NORWAY - Orkla and Kverva have entered into an agreement with 2/3 of the shareholders in PHARMAQ AS to acquire the company. Currently, PHARMAQ is the world's leading pharmaceutical company supplying the aquaculture industry.

PHARMAQ's management and the employees will still own up to 1/3 in the company. Orkla and Kverva will together with PHARMAQ's management and employees actively contribute to the further development of the company.

"We are very pleased with having Orkla and Kverva entering PHARMAQ as majority owners. These companies represent competent and long-term oriented investors and have combined vast industrial experience which PHARMAQ can make use of both in Norway and internationally" says Morten Nordstad, CEO of PHARMAQ.

PHARMAQ was founded in 2004 when the employees acquired the company from its previous owners. In 2007, the operating revenues were NOK 276.9 million and earnings before tax were NOK 64.2 million.

"We are enthusiastic about contributing to the further development of the competence and know-how PHARMAQ has created. Their research-and-development efforts have made the company the leading provider of pharmaceuticals to the rapidly growing global aquaculture industry. To Kverva, as an investment company within the marine sector, this ownership is an exciting opportunity" says Kverva's Managing Director, Helge Moen.

The number of staff employed within research and development has nearly doubled since 2004, and the company has introduced 9 new vaccines in the same period. Today PHARMAQ derives almost 2/3 of its revenue from export.

"We see PHARMAQ as an interesting investment. The company holds a leading position within a sector with large international growth potential. PHARMAQ has a strong management team which shows its commitment to the company through a continued substantial ownership position. This investment is consistent with our focus also on large ownership positions in non-listed companies, where Orkla can provide broad financial and industrial competence" says Thomas Øybø, Manager of Orkla's share portfolio.

The transaction is expected to be completed within 2-3 months. The completion is among other things subject to approval from competition authorities in different countries, and that pre emption rights of the shareholders are not exercised. DnBNOR Markets has been PHARMAQ's financial advisor in the sales process.