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Newsletter July 2011

SPEAK OUT

Aquaculture—The Next Level

Anita Hamilton, Partner and Managing Director – Linnaeus capital Partners B.V., discusses the dynamic Aquaculture sector in Greece.

What are the prospects for the Aquaculture sector in Greece?
Greece has the potential to grow into Europe’s next generation aquaculture hub provided that fresh investment is attracted, scientific research and innovation is fostered and the sector’s business models become transparent and efficient.

Greek aquaculture is a dynamic, exports-oriented sector which has successfully leveraged the advantages of the natural environment of Greece and has benefited from the skill set of forward-looking entrepreneurs to make substantial progress and grow. It also presents significant potential for further growth which however will remain untapped as long as the sector does not overcome its structural problems. Indeed, the sector is suffering from fragmentation and supply-led cyclicality that is driven by stocking and destocking events. As a result, Greek aquaculture companies are grappling with overwhelming indebtedness which in combination with the emerging competition from neighbouring lower-cost aquaculture producers, such as Turkey, and the absence of R&D investments puts their leading position and long-term sustainability at risk. This is where Linnaeus Capital Partners can step in. We are a foreign direct investor into Greek aquaculture and we aim to become the catalyst towards elevating the country’s aquaculture industry to the next level. What we bring to the table is much needed development capital, know-how and expertise, investments in technology and R&D, as well as best practices in corporate governance from our international experience, so that the companies that participate in our plans make it to the next level.

How do you evaluate your presence in Greece to date?
Our presence so far has been marked by steady progress as we have gradually managed to navigate the Greek legal system successfully and to become familiar with the domestic business culture. Through our dealings with Greek entrepreneurs, we have come to develop a deep appreciation for their abilities and skills which we believe will be an invaluable asset to the consolidated entity which should emerge from this process. Overall, we believe our choice to invest in the Greek aquaculture sector has been vindicated as evidenced by the progress we have made and the conditions we have met on the ground. This brings us a step closer to realising our core drive, namely to effect growth and build competitiveness by leveraging Greece as a European aquaculture brand and equip it with significant investment, technology and global strategy.

How do you evaluate your cooperation with the Greek Key market players (Selonda Aquaculture SA, Dias SA and others)?
Being a strategic investor in the three key companies of the sector, we are in continuous cooperation with the management aiming at the improvement of their prospects. That being said, consolidation in any sector – troubled or not – is never easy to achieve. It needs to be based on solid foundations and a common vision. Developing these foundations and sharing this common vision takes time. I am very happy to say that we have come a long way with some of the major forces in the sector. Through our dealings with Greek businessmen for the last year, we have come to develop a great appreciation for their abilities and instincts. Many companies that started off as family businesses have now developed into leaders in their respective fields. It is somewhat of a misfortune that some of these businesses have been caught up in the current financial turmoil that is facing the country. However this is where Linnaeus can step in and support them overcome the current cycle and develop into the national – or global – champions of tomorrow. We believe that we are on the right track and we are optimistic that we will soon reach a stage where the sector’s consolidation will be put in action and whoever participates will stand to reap substantial benefits.

What is your opinion of the structure of Aquaculture sector in Greece?
Linnaeus believes that the aquaculture sector in Greece is fragmented among a large number of companies and suffers from damaging cyclicality of production, which has brought the sector to its current status; being overexposed to debt and unsustainable. Linnaeus strongly believes that Greek aquaculture needs rebooting and that consolidation is the only way to overcome the sector’s current unsustainable indebtedness and cessation of banking financial support. Our mission is to help restore Greek aquaculture’s competitiveness and sustainability and to position it as a premium global brand through a robust long-term strategy. To achieve this it is necessary to restore the equilibrium between production, supply and demand through the sector’s consolidation. What we are offering to the companies that participate in our plans is the opportunity to realise their full potential and to help Greece grow into a European hub for aquaculture. 


ANITA HAMILTON
Partner and Managing Director – Linnaeus capital Partners B.V.
Anita has more than twenty years of experience in the investment sector. Prior to Linnaeus Anita spent fifteen years with Hong Kong based Hutchison Whampoa Limited as Head of Business Development for Hutchison Westports with responsibility for transport related investments in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Americas and North America.

Anita has also experience in renewable energy and real-estate investments.

LINNAEUS CAPITAL PARTNERS B.V.
Global Capital for Development
Linnaeus Capital Partners B.V. (Linnaeus) was founded in 2009 and is an Amsterdam based independent and partner owned private equity fund that is providing development capital across a range of growth sectors.
The areas of interest are small to medium sized companies where unique and high growth potential can be identified. Linnaeus is a medium to long-term investor with a hold horizon of five to seven years.

Investment Philosophy
Linnaeus has a wide range of investment interest and expertise and therefore does not restrict its interests to any particular sector. What it seeks and values is:
• Experienced and driven teams
• Sustainable technology (established proof of concept and strong IP)
• A straight forward business plan that can address significant growth

Development Strategy
Of prime importance to Linnaeus is achieving a working and beneficial union with any company in which it invests. Linnaeus brings to the table both management expertise and global market knowledge and works with the existing team of a business to identify and correct areas of weakness and to strengthen and build upon its successes.