Biomar, the fish feed manufacturer part of Danish group Schouw & Co, issued a stark alert to creditor banks taking over Greek aquaculture companies in financial distress: they must move faster or deterioration of the industry’s future will be irreversible.
In response to Undercurrent News questions, Biomar’s Europe deputy president Carlos Diaz said negotiations with banks about the situation of bass and bream producer Dias, a major client, had yielded little progress so far.
“At Biomar, we believe that Greek aquaculture has a great future. But the new owners, in many cases that banks, need to act faster,” said Diaz.
“Biomar has been in close dialog with banks for a long time, trying to look for a solution for Dias with different models and proposals, but to no avail,” he added.
The press in Greece last week speculated about the possibility that Biomar had filed a formal proposal to rescue Dias from bankruptcy, but the Danish company denied such rumors and told Undercurrent that they would try to protect payment of clients’ outstanding debts in the best way possible.
To the suggestion that Biomar itself could be giving trade credit to Dias — so the Greek fish farmer can maintain its biomass levels and its business active –, the fish feed firm said it would not comment further on any commercial accord with Dias.
Diaz acknowledged the situation in Greece has become increasingly confusing due to the abundance of hearsay, and lack of information about the state of the aquaculture sector.
Greek newspapers said Biomar would have suggested banks could capitalize debt — turning non-performing loans into shares — ensuring Dias has enough working capital to revive its business, while leaving enough room for new investors.
However, Dias’ managing director Anita Hamilton told Undercurrent no proposal had been submitted by Biomar.
In June 10, Dias announced it had reached a deal with creditors to extend its bankruptcy protection only until after the summer.
The news meant its bankruptcy court hearing, scheduled for June 11, was suspended. The court would have appointed a bankruptcy administrator for Dias if the farmer had not submitted a restructuring proposal that had then been approved during the hearing.
As Undercurrent reported back in March this year, market trends show seabass and seabream farmers in Turkey are spreading their sales abroad along the lines of the contraction suffered by the Greek industry, which is rapidly losing territory under euro-crisis tensions.