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Aker Acquires Neptune’s Krill Business, Neptune Focuses on Other Ventures

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Aker BioMarine just announced it acquired the krill oil inventory and intellectual property (IP) from its former rival, Neptune Technologies & Bioressources, for a cash consideration of $US34 million. Neptune's customers and products, including Neptune's popular NKO™, brand will be integrated into Aker BioMarine’s customer base, said Matts Johansen, CEO of Aker BioMarine, in a statement.

Aker is getting great IP. Less than a month ago, I went to Sherbrooke, Quebec (outside of Montreal) to visit the Neptune krill oil facility. Little did I know that the batched I watched being created was among the last krill oil to be extracted at Neptune’s Sherbrooke facility.

I’ve toured close to a dozen facilities, and I have never seen anything like this. This is the only time that I was required to watch a safety video and take a safety quiz before I could enter a facility. The safety extended into the plant design, which was redesigned after an explosion in this facility in November 2012. I only saw three workers on the production line during the visit, and one of those was in the control room.

The entire plant runs by automation, with a quality control inspector viewing chemical levels and other safety aspects 100 percent of the time, even on weekends when the plant isn’t running. It was an odd feeling to be among so many machines without workers, but I couldn’t deny the safety of it.

That Sherbrooke facility will go on to serve Neptune in its non-krill ventures, as it was not part of the transaction. There’s no telling if Aker will use the same method of krill oil production that I saw at the Neptune facility. The press release about the transaction said Neptune is now exploring potential alternatives for the Sherbrooke facility, such as the development of other extractions.

Neptune isn’t leaving the industry, however. Jim Hamilton, president and CEO of Neptune, noted that his company will stay in the krill oil business via its Acasti Pharma Inc. (prescription drugs) and through soft gel capsules from its solutions business.

Beyond krill, Neptune will focus on the growing cannabis oil extraction, and the Sherbrooke facility will run a special medical cannabis project in the immediate future. According to terms of the deal, some of the proceeds will be allocated to the Green Valley medical cannabis oil extraction project.

Neptune is also looking to acquire more strategic businesses, Hamilton said in the statement. Potential acquisitions will be specialty ingredients, brands and the solutions business, according to Hamilton.

It’s expected Neptune will focus on the business solutions side of the company as well. The acquisition of Biodroga—a nutraceutical finished product supplier—in January 2016 helped build this portfolio for Neptune. In recent months, the solutions business was strengthened with different initiatives headlined by its MaxSimil patented ingredient, which enhances the absorption of lipid-based nutraceuticals.

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