Croatian Scampi pioneer
The following appeared in today's New Zealand Herald. John Kraljic, Esq.
Scampi pioneer sells out for $137m
By LIAM DANN
Nearly 40 years after Ivan Simunovich opened a small fish'n'chip shop in Glen Innes, his family sold the business yesterday for $137 million to corporate giant Sanford. Managing director Peter Simunovich said his father, a Croatian immigrant, only became involved in fishing because he needed a stable supply for his shop.
The fishing business grew steadily through the 1970s and '80s, but it was the decision to start harvesting scampi - a deep-water crustacean that looks like a cross between a prawn and a lobster -that paid off for the family in the 1990s. Now, Simunovich Fisheries dominates the lucrative scampi trade.
The sale catapults the Simunovich family - the sole shareholders - into the nation's rich list.
It does not quite bring to an end the controversy surrounding the allocation of scampi quota during the past three years.
Sanford is buying all of Simunovich's assets, including its fishing quota.
Concerns about the Ministry of Fisheries' handling of the Simunovich scampi quota resulted in two Government inquiries, and a decision on some parts of the quota is under appeal.
Sanford will pay cash immediately for the assets that can be handed over now. Settlement for the rest will be progressive as legal approvals come through.
Simunovich said scampi had provided the highs and lows of his career.
The highlight was his family's work to pioneer the harvesting and international marketing of the New Zealand scampi variety. The low was the "horrible fight" over quota.
Simunovich and his sister, Donna, were directors but they will step down once the transition to Sanford is complete.
Simunovich said he would take a breather before deciding on his next move.
The family had a few other interests such as property investments, but it was likely there would eventually be other opportunities to explore.
"I'm not too old yet."
Simunovich said he and his father were pleased to be selling to Sanford, a company with a long history "that was not bound by treaties or anything else".
Sanford managing director Eric Barratt said the Simunovich assets would be a good fit.
As a much larger exporter, Sanford would be able to use its scale to find synergies in the processing and marketing of scampi.
"There is an opportunity to improve the market channels and the net return back to New Zealand."