Neptune, a Canadian pioneer in the krill oil industry, is in dire financial straits. Its stock has been taken off the NASDAQ exchange, its financial reporting has been delayed and a subsidiary has received a notice of default.

March 29, 2024

3 Min Read

At a Glance

  • Neptune was a pioneer in the krill oil business. 
  • The company later diversified into formulation solutions, cannabis, baby foods and even hand sanitizers. 
  • That dispersal of effort ultimately proved unsuccessful. 

Neptune Wellness Solutions appears to be in severe financial difficulty with its shares having been delisted from the NASDAQ exchange and a subsidiary receiving a notice of default. 

Neptune, which previously was known as Neptune Technologies and Bioressources, was a pioneer in the development of krill oil as an ingredient for dietary supplements. 

While the company never had its own harvesting vessels, it did develop some of the early extraction technology at its plant in Sherbrooke, Quebec. 

Many of the earliest krill oil supplements sold in the United States featured Neptune’s ingredients. 

Krill success attracted major competitor 

But the opportunities in the krill sphere attracted a deep pocketed competitor, Aker BioMarine, a Norwegian company that is a subsidiary of Aker ASA, a diversified company with operations in oil and gas, renewable energy and more. Aker’s biggest shareholder is Kjell Inge Røkke, said to be the wealthiest Norwegian citizen.   

With Røkke’s enthusiastic backing, Aker poured millions into the development of a dedicated fishing fleet and, ultimately, into its own extraction facility in Houston. 

Aker also spent millions in an extended IP fight with Neptune, which at that time was more than willing to step into the fray. The internecine battles of the so-called “krill wars” were fought in courtrooms around the globe. 

Related:Aker hits high gear in krill oil innovation with mature Houston facility

Those battles were expensive. Neptune also had to rebuild its Sherbrooke facility after a tragic explosion and fire in 2012 that killed two and injured 19. 

In 2017 Neptune finally threw in the towel and sold its interests in the krill business to Aker. 

In the aftermath of that announcement, Neptune pivoted toward the medical cannabis sector in Canada, which it was thought would make use of the lipid extraction expertise it had built up in the krill business. 

The company also sought to diversify by acquiring a formulation solution provider called Biodroga.  

Company diversified into many different sectors 

However, under the leadership of former CEO Michael Cammarata, who resigned on Feb. 27, the company diversified into businesses even further afield.  

In 2021 Neptune, which had put forward a strategic vision of transforming itself into a CPG company, acquired a controlling interest in baby food company Sprouts Organics. It launched a line of supplements called Forest Remedies in conjunction with noted primate zoologist and activist Jane Goodall. It even got into the market for hand sanitizers during the pandemic. 

But the acquisitions seem to have ultimately proved unfruitful. In its most recent financial report from the period ending Sept. 20, 2023, the company reported revenue of $8.7 million as compared to $12 million for the same period a year previously. For the six-month period ending on Sept 30, 2023, the figures were $19.3 million and $28.3 million, respectively. 

The company did manage to trim its six-month loss to $15.2 million from $54.1 million the year previously.  

That earnings report was released on Nov. 14, 2023. The company has not filed an earnings report since. 

Perhaps the biggest blow of all came in early March when the company’s stock was delisted from the NASDAQ stock exchange. The company’s shares now trade on the OTC exchange for 10 cents a share.  As recently as April of last year the company’s shares were fetching more than $26 apiece. 

In addition, on March 22, 2024 a federal form 8K was filed that announced that Sprout Organics had defaulted on a loan that is held by NH Expansion Credit Fund Holdings.  

In early March, the company announced the appointment of a new interim CEO and interim CFO. At the time, the company said, “As of the date this press release, there is minimal cash balance at the Company. The Company requires funding in the very near term in order to continue its operations.” 

 

 

 

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