Rich list members set to sell stake in tuna group to fund expansion: Report
The Smorgon family’s investment company, Victor Smorgon Group, is reportedly looking to sell part of its stake in Tony’s Tuna, the bluefish tuna operation founded by colourful former rich list member Tony Santic, to fund expansion.
According to The Australian, Tony’s Tuna – operated in a joint venture with tuna fisherman Tony Santic – could be valued at $120 million, with the sale of a stake up to 33% seen as being crucial to underpin expansion plans.
The report says the sale is expected to attract interest from North America, Asia, South Africa, Norway and Spain.
Tony’s Tuna, established by Santic in 1994, is the second-largest southern bluefin tuna ranch in Australia, according to its website, selling fresh and frozen tuna that are caught between December and March.
The thrice-married Santic, a BRW Rich Lister, is known for his love of horses, with Makybe Diva his best-known mare.
Santic and Tony’s Tuna general manager Andrew Wilkinson were contacted for comment this morning but were unavailable prior to publication.
Santic was last listed on the BRW Rich 200 list in 2003 with a fortune of $200 million.
The Melbourne-based industrialist Victor Smorgon died in 2009. VSG’s other investments include General Pants Group, Vicfam Plastics and Smorgon Fuels.
According to this year’s BRW Rich 200, the combined wealth of the various wings of the Smorgon family was $2.69 billion.
Santic is one of a group of South Australian fishing millionaires based in the town of Port Lincoln.
Another rich list fisherman, Clean Seas’ executive chairman Hagen Stehr, has suggested that artificially breeding southern bluefin tuna is the best way to meet demand as fish stocks decline.
Clean Seas Tuna has been trying to establish an artificial breeding and commercial farming operation for the species and a company statement said some southern bluefin juveniles had lived for more than 150 days after being transferred in March to sea cages from company facilities.
"This latest milestone in our breeding and grow-out program has reinforced the company's confidence in our research and development team as we move steadily towards commercialisation," the statement said.