Neptune NRCP founding partner Thor Talseth has assumed the role of chief executive at Avramar, the Mediterranean seafood joint venture between Mubadala Investment Company and AMERRA Capital Management, which he helped assemble while working for AMERRA.
New York-based Talseth plans to relocate to Avramar’s Valencia, Spain headquarters later this year to replace former chief executive Alex Myers. Talseth’s existing position as chair of the company’s board will be filled by Craig Tashjian of AMERRA, which is majority shareholder of Avramar.
AMERRA-backed Andromeda Group of Greece and Spain teamed with Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala to acquire majority stakes in Mediterranean seabass and bream providers Nireus and Selonda in mid-2018 from a consortium of Greek banks. After asset sales required by European Union regulators, the companies assets were combined with those of fishfeed producer Perseus and rebranded as Avramar in 2020.
Talseth told Agri Investor the creation of Avramar was a key focus during his four years as head of private equity at AMERRA. The company has grown from about 14 thousand tons of annual production in 2016 to about 80 thousand tons today, he said, by developing an integrated platform that includes feed production and genetics.
He added that although he never envisioned taking on the chief executive role himself, the decision to do so was motivated by Avramar’s unique position in a global aquaculture industry he knows well.
“You don’t often see the roll up of an entire industry like we have done with Avramar,” said Talseth, who served as head of seafood at Norwegian investment bank Arctic Securities and held executive positions at Landsbanki Norway, Catch Communications and Aquia BioTechnology prior to joining AMERRA in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.
“Everything is relative, but in terms of aquaculture and Mediterranean aquaculture, [Avramar] is a giant and I have personal motivation to play a more active role going forward,” he said.
After leaving AMERRA in mid-2019, Talseth partnered with Stafford Capital Partners to launch Neptune NRCP as a private equity firm focused on the global aquaculture value chain. Stafford provided $33.5 million that constituted a first close for the Neptune Aquaculture PE fund, which had a target of $300 million.
Neptune retains an equity stake in Avramar and is a co-investor alongside AMERRA in AquaShip, a Norwegian company that operates a fleet of shipping and service vehicles supporting salmon production. Talseth said Neptune ceased fundraising last summer and his assuming the chief executive role at Avramar means the firm will pursue no new investments beyond the $40 million it has already deployed.
In his new role as chief executive, he said, focus will remain on integrating Avramar’s recent acquisitions and taking steps to develop the company’s downstream positions in key markets.
“Our customers – the bigger retailers and foodservice companies in Europe and North America – they are really looking for partners that can develop this Mediterranean aquaculture category together with them,” he said.