After the Annual General Meeting held last May, we learned that Johan Andreassen was leaving the Atlantic Sapphire Board of Directors and was appointed as CEO of Atlantic Sapphire USA LLC. On the recommendation of the Nomination Committee, the executive stepped down from the Board and did so with a very specific objective: “to focus even more on the Group’s operations.” This week, he has also been appointed Managing Director of Atlantic Sapphire ASA. A new position that, as confirmed by the company’s CFO Karl Øystein Øyehaug, does not entail any change.
“This has no practical implications,” Øyehaug told WeAreAquaculture in an emailed statement. “Johan will continue to be CEO of Atlantic Sapphire USA and will also be the Managing Director of the Norwegian parent company, that is simply a holding company,” he clarified.
A better corporate governance
Like his appointment as CEO of Atlantic Sapphire USA LLC, this was also a recommendation of the Nomination Committee. However, in order to become effective, it was necessary for the proposal to receive approval from the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries. Norwegian public limited companies may only appoint CEOs residing outside Norway and the EEA area with prior approval from the Ministry, and Johan Andreassen resides in Miami, Florida, where Atlantic Sapphire’s land-based salmon farming facilities are located.
Although site reconditioning works began in March of this year, after the destruction of its facilities in Denmark in September 2021, Atlantic Sapphire’s only operational facility is in Homestead, Florida, just south of Miami. And that is where the company and its CEO are directing all their efforts, as decided at the last Annual General Meeting.
“The Nomination Committee believes that Johan Andreassen stepping down from the position as Chairman of the Board of Directors will allow him to focus even more on the Group’s operations through the position as Group CEO,” said the Nomination Committee’s recommendation document prior to the meeting. “Andreassen will be appointed as formal CEO of the Company following his resignation from the Board of Directors,” it continued. “The resignation of Andreassen from the Board of Directors is also considered to imply better corporate governance for the Group.”
An increased operational focus
A month earlier, when the company filed its 2022 Annual Report at the end of April, Atlantic Sapphire pointed to operational success as its greatest achievement, although it also acknowledged that Q4 of 2022 and Q1 of 2023 were difficult due to higher fish mortality rates. “After a year with considerable heavy lifting on the operational side, we are seeing improvements in the key parameters that will lead to higher productivity, fish health, and product quality,” Johan Andreassen then said.
“Our freshwater systems are consistently performing in line with the best smolt producers in the world. Our filleting line was installed and commissioned leading to increased quality control, yields, and cost savings once we are at scale. We know how much it costs to operate the facility and has executed many cost-saving opportunities. More have been identified for 2023,” added the co-founder and now also CEO in the USA and Managing Director of Atlantic Sapphire. With an increasingly mature company, aware of its strengths but also of its weaknesses, Johan Andreassen’s new positions are not the only ones focused on strengthening the group’s operations.
At the Annual General Meeting where he was replaced as Chairman by Kenneth Andersen of Strawberry Capital, Erik Welde and Marta Rojo were also appointed as new Board members. Welde is CEO of Nordlaks Group – currently the largest shareholder of Atlantic Sapphire – while Marta Rojo has more than 25 years of international experience in companies such as Mowi, Skretting and Salmones Camanchaca. The Nomination Committee said of them that their incorporation “will strengthen the capabilities of the Board of Directors within the aquaculture business even further, specifically when it comes to RAS, and will also contribute to an increased operational focus within the Board of Directors.”
About Atlantic Sapphire
With a strong focus on R&D and innovation, Atlantic Sapphire is a pioneer in Bluehouse® (land-raised) salmon farming. The company has been operating its innovation center in Denmark for ten years. In the United States facility at Homestead, Florida, they have completed Phase 1 construction. Currently under construction, its Phase 2 expansion will bring total annual production capacity to 25,000 tons and has a long-term targeted harvest volume of 220,000 tons.