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Umami Looks Set To Expand Operations

Economics +1 more

US - A recent press release from Umami Sustainable Seafood Inc. has announced that the company is making progress towards financing for the fishing and growing seasons.

Umami Sustainable Seafood Inc are a holding company of fish farming operations that supply sashimi-grade Northern Bluefin Tuna to the global market. Recently the Company has been actively negotiating with multiple funding sources to secure short term financing for its seasonal farming.

Upon the closing of approximately $35 million in total net new funding, the Company is expected to have sufficient funds to complete its planned fishing for the season. The Company also expects that this $35 million will provide the capital necessary for budgeted fish farming operations through the next harvest season, which would commence this coming October.

The Company harvests and sells its Bluefin Tuna product primarily in the months of October to March, incurring most of its costs, primarily the feeding of our fish, from April to September. In this non-harvest period, the Company is relying on external debt financing to fund its farming operations, mostly from local banks in Croatia and Mexico, where fish farming operations are located, and related parties.

The Company has very recently closed new funding of about $9 million from banks. The Company also hopes to close a working capital line of $16 million which has been negotiated with a third party lender soon, subject to adequate amounts of biomass (live fish being farmed) being available to serve as collateral. Further, the Company hopes to close a working capital facility of up to $15 million from a related party soon, of which approximately $4 million would be used to pay down existing debt.

Until $26 million in loans are closed, the Company may cover its seasonal cash needs with short term funding from various sources, as it has done on a regular basis in the past, in order that ongoing farming operations are funded as required.

To the extent that some or all remaining $26 million in net new funding does not close, the Company may raise cash by making alternate borrowing arrangements or by harvesting and selling or pre-selling some of its biomass inventory, which currently stands at about 3,600 tons, valued at over $75 million, given current market prices.

Additionally, the Company is continuously looking for optimal sources for long term equity and/or debt for expansion capital, with emphasis on growing its infrastructure and obtaining new licenses that will enhance its production capacity.

In announcing these developments, Oli Steindorsson, Chairman and CEO of Umami, commented, "In spite of the Japan Tsunami on 11 March, a terrible tragedy which devastated the North East portion of our primary market, we have made considerable progress in securing funding at a considerably lower interest cost this year as compared to last year.”

"The Japanese market for Bluefin Tuna seems to be at least as receptive in 2011 as it was in 2010. We have received verbal requests from clients this year for approximately 4,500 metric tons of Bluefin. Further, the recent very strong fishing results in Croatian waters have given us empirical evidence that the quota and monitoring procedures implemented by ICCAT to ensure the sustainability of the Bluefin in the Mediterranean are working very well," he concluded.