New York equity firm buys Icicle Seafoods processor

Photo/Rob Stapleton/AJOC
Icicle Seafoods, a major diversified seafood processor with facilities throughout Alaska, is being acquired by Fox Paine Management III LLC, a private-equity firm with offices in San Francisco and New York.

Icicle and Fox Paine III issued a news release Aug. 5, saying the transaction was expected to close within 90 days. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Icicle, based in Seattle, is a major processor of wild Alaska salmon, pollock, crab, halibut, cod, sablefish and herring in all major fisheries in Alaska. The company also produces surimi-based seafood products in Bellingham, Wash., as well as imports and trades other seafood products.

Icicle employs some 2,200 people in its operations in Alaska, Washington State, Oregon, Japan and Chile. Icicle products are sold worldwide to a customer base that ranges from wholesale and food service to retail markets.

Don Giles, president and chief executive officer, will continue on as the seafood processing firm’s chief executive. Giles said he anticipated no changes in staffing the company.

“In Fox Paine III we have found a strategic partner who will help Icicle Seafoods realize our vision to grow our operations in current and new markets, while remaining true to our heritage,” Giles said. “Through this transaction, Icicle Seafoods will greatly increase its access to growth capital while also providing liquidity for our existing shareholders.”

Fox Paine provides equity capital for management buyouts, going private transactions, and company expansion and growth programs. The firm engages in transactions developed in cooperation with a company’s management, board of directors and shareholders.

Word of the acquisition comes on the heels of an agreement by Icicle to pay a $900,000 federal pollution fine, stemming from discharges of its processing vessel M/V Northern Victor in Udagak Bay near Dutch Harbor.

Giles confirmed that the clean up of fish guts and other waste, which were discharged before Icicle acquired the vessel, had been completed, but said he had no further comment on the matter.

Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency in Seattle said that public comment on the matter, which was settled June 29, would be accepted through Aug. 10, but would not affect the outcome of the case.

EPA officials said they issued a permit to Icicle Seafoods when the company acquired the 380-foot pollock and cod-processing ship the Northern Victor that required Icicle to remove the historic seafood waste piles, but that Icicle did not meet the deadline for removal.

Court documents in the matter resolved in the US District Court for Alaska note that Icicle did conduct dredging operations in Udagak Bay from December 2006 through March 2007, resulting in satisfactory removal of the waste piles.

Earlier this year the EPA proposed three separate Clean Water Act penalties of $28,600 against Baywatch Seafoods, LLC, $40,000 against Copper River Seafoods LLC and $8,018 against Snug Harbor Seafoods Inc.

The EPA said the latter settlement included Snug Harbor voluntarily agreeing to fund a supplemental environmental project at a cost of $26,000. According to the EPA, Snug Harbor’s violations included failure to route all seafood processing wastes through a waste conveyance system and to conduct monitoring.

Margaret Bauman can be reached at [email protected].

08/11/2007 - 8:00pm