Champlain Financial buys Canadian lobster company

Riverside Lobster International president David Deveau tells Agri Investor that the he expects Champlain will use the company as its platform to build a larger position in the Canadian seafood industry.

Canadian private equity firm Champlain Financial has purchased Nova Scotia-based seafood company Riverside Lobster International for an undisclosed sum, the firm announced last week.

Riverside is a branded processor and wholesale distributor of lobster and scallops based in St. Mary’s Bay, which borders the Atlantic Ocean in eastern Canada. The company maintains two processing facilities in the area and its offerings include live lobsters, scallops, snow crabs as well as frozen lobster meat and tails.

Ascendiant Capital Markets, which served as financial advisor to Riverside on the deal, said in a statement that Riverside would be merged with Cheticamp Fisheries, a Nova Scotia-based crab producer that Champlain acquired in May. The merged company, according to Ascendiant’s statement, will have combined annual revenues of more than $175 million.

Riverside president David Deveau told Agri Investor that though Cheticamp and Riverside are now owned as a single entity by Champlain, the two companies will continue to operate as separate entities under their current names.

Deveau added that the deal comes amid a surge of investor interest in seafood that it grew directly of the firm’s purchase of Cheticamp, whose manger was also a shareholder in Riverside.

“Champlain recognizes that to be a leader, you need to be diversified in different species. They just made a move on crab, then they made a move into lobster, and they have other plans,” Deveau said. “This is just the tip of the iceberg; they will continue to purchase facilities and diversify in the seafood industry.”

At the Intrafish Seafood Investors Forum in May, panelists discussed the role of private equity in attracting institutional investors to a sector expected to see a transformation over the next decade as business practices developed largely for farming Norwegian salmon are applied in other regions and species.

“Larger companies, more institutionally-managed companies, will attract these capital pools that are now analyzing the space because the risk is lower,” said AMERRA Capital Management managing director Thor Talseth. “We’re building these platforms that are regarded as a safer entry point.”

Champlain is a Canada-focused mid-market private equity firm founded in 2004 and headquartered in Montreal. Typically, the firm invests in companies with between $3 million and $10 million in EBITDA in the consumer, retail, distribution, healthcare and niche manufacturing sectors.

Agriculture-related investments currently in Champlain’s portfolio include maple syrup distributor LB Maple Treat and the JLD Lague Group, which operates a network of John Deere equipment dealerships in Canada.