Huon Aquaculture (ASX:HUO) - CEO, Peter Bender and Executive Director Frances Bender
CEO, Peter Bender and Executive Director Frances Bender
Source: Huon Aquaculture
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  • Huon Aquaculture (HUO) has reassured shareholders it will not be “distracted by external noise” amid brewing tensions between takeover rivals Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Brazilian meat giant JBS
  • The Tasmanian salmon producer has addressed its shareholders in a statement to the ASX after Mr Forrest questioned JBS’s agricultural practices
  • Huon Chair Neil Kearney says the company will “not be distracted by external noise” that does not provide Huon shareholders with proper value
  • Huon has urged shareholders to accept the $3.85 per share cash bid from JBS, which iterated it has “a zero-tolerance for animal abuse”
  • Huon Aquaculture shares are trading in the grey at $3.82 at 12:23 pm AEST

Huon Aquaculture (HUO) has reassured shareholders it will not be “distracted by external noise” amid brewing tensions between takeover rivals Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and Brazilian meat giant JBS.

The mining magnate called JBS’s agribusiness practices into question last week, challenging “massive protein producers” to commit to the same principles as his own agri-food business after JBS lobbed a $3.85 per share cash bid for Huon earlier this month.

“Animals provide humans with a valuable source of protein, the least we can do is respect this by ensuring they are treated with the utmost care,” Mr Forrest said.

“As the world’s biggest protein producer, JBS can rise to this same standard.”

Mr Forrest increased his holding in the Tasmanian salmon producer from a 7.33 per cent stake — acquired in June — to 18.51 per cent via his private investment group Tattarang shortly after the JBS bid was made.

Huon Aquaculture today addressed these criticisms in a letter to its shareholders, having already urged shareholders to accept the JBS bid.

“In the early phase of the review process, Tattarang expressed interest in Huon and submitted a non-binding and conditional indicative offer for the business,” Huon Chairman Neil Kearney said.

“Tattarang was invited to participate further in the strategic review process
and submit a final and binding offer but declined to do so.

“In any event, JBS’s $3.85 cash per share offer is materially higher than Tattarang’s non-binding and conditional indicative offer.”

Mr Kearney said Huon was committed to securing “proper value” for its shareholders.

“We will not be distracted by external noise that does not provide Huon shareholders with that opportunity,” he said.

JBS has also commented on the matter, affirming it has a zero-tolerance for animal abuse from its employees and third parties.

“JBS unequivocally supports the concept of no pain, no fear and upholds the highest standards of animal welfare in this country,” the statement read.

“As we have said previously, JBS will apply its uncompromising commitment to animal welfare and sustainability at Huon to build on the legacy of the Bender family in Tasmania.”

“Tasmania has some of the most stringent environmental licence and regulatory standards in the world … and we are committed to meeting and exceeding those standards and rigorously applying our continuous improvement approach.”

Huon said it would provide shareholders with a report from an “independent expert” for their consideration ahead of voting on the JBS proposal in the next month.

Huon Aquaculture shares were trading in the grey at $3.82 at 12:23 pm AEST.

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