Maruha Nichiro sells Peter Pan Seafoods to PE firm, former owner of Cooke salmon farming operation

The company announced in February it was looking to sell off the company, which traces its roots back to 1898 in Alaska.

Maruha Nichiro-owned Peter Pan Seafoods, one of Alaska’s oldest salmon processing companies, has been sold to a group of investors that includes Rodger May, the former owner of Washington State salmon farms now owned by Cooke Aquaculture, and private equity firm McKinley Capital Management.

Officials at Maruha Capital Investment Inc. which owns Peter Pan, along with Westward Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Premier Pacific Seafoods and Trans-Ocean Products in the United States, announced in February it was looking to sell off the company, which traces its roots back to 1898 in Alaska.

May, who is also the owner of Alaskan seafood distributor Northwest Fish Company, was formerly CEO and owner of Seattle-based seafood processor Smoki Foods, which in 2005 paid $16 million (€14.8 million) for eight Washington state salmon farms owned by Pan Fish of Norway (now Mowi) through subsidiary American Gold Seafoods.

Three years later, May sold the farms to Icicle Seafoods, which was later acquired by Cooke.

May also has business interests in real estate, banking, medical equipment and motion pictures.

The Alaska salmon processing sector is a crowded one, with majors including Trident Seafoods, Cooke-owned Icicle Seafoods, Canfisco-owned Alaska General Seafoods, Marubeni-owned North Pacific Seafoods, Silver Bay Seafoods, and Ocean Beauty Seafoods all operating facilities in the state.

Peter Pan has had a slew of owners since its establishment in the late 1800s. The first major ownership change was the sale to the Bristol Bay Native Corporation (BBNC), which acquired the company from the family of Seattle industrialist Nick Baz in 1975 for $8 million (€6.9 million).

BBNC, which recently re-entered the seafood sector through the acquisition of Pacific cod giants Clipper Seafoods and Blue North, sold the group four years later to Nichiro, which merged with rival Maruha in 2007.

Peter Pan’s operations span Central and Southeast Alaska. The company processes salmon in Valdez, King Cove, Port Moller and in Dillingham, its oldest operation.

The company’s canned salmon brands, Deming’s and Double Q, are among the top-selling brands in the US market. Peter Pan also processes halibut, cod, king crab and pollock in King Cove and Valdez.