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Troubled 'No Catch', Buyer Likely

SCOTLAND - Shetland's fish industry is reeling after No Catch, the worlds first organic cod farming business, announced it had gone into administration.

The firm called in Grant Thornton on Tuesday after failing to find a new financial backer and meet debts of around £40 million.

However, administrators say they are confident a buyer can be found, and, according to Shetland Marine News, say an international firm is about to propose an acquisition. A deal could be finalised within the next six weeks.

Optimistic Outcome

Daniel Smith, one of the joint administrators at Grant Thornton, is very optimistic. The company had spent the past three years building up a strong business which was about to bear fruit with “serious numbers of fish” just reaching the point they were ready to harvest.

Its only fault was to have run out of cash at the crucial moment, and been unable to find an investor.

Mr Smith said it would be easier to sell No Catch now that there were no shareholders looking for a return on their investment. Instead the new owner will be asked to pay off the company’s debts, which include around £1 million owed to Shetland Development Trust, all that’s left of an initial £2.8 million loan.

Several interested parties, have contacted Grant Thornton, one of whom hoped to put together a bid before the end of this week, said Mr Smith.

“I have met with one interested party who is looking to formulate a bid within the next 48 hours, and I have also been contacted by other interested parties who had previously looked at the business but were not interested in investing at that juncture," he added.

One proposal is from an international firm which had shown the most interest so far. Mr Smith hoped that a sale could be finalised within the next five or six weeks.

No Catch was set up in March 2005 after city investment firm Milestone Capital financed a £21 million management buy out from Vidlin fish farmers Angus and Ivor Johnson. The company launched an ambitious programme of investment, purchasing the NuFish cod hatchery in Sandwick for £3 million and taking over Danny Watt’s processing factory in Scalloway to run an integrated operation from larvae to fully grown fish.

They also ran their own marketing drive under the brand No Catch…Just Cod, suggesting their farmed cod could replace dwindling wild cod stocks.

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Ellen Hardy

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