Norwegian group Aker Seafoods has announced it is to acquire a 70% participation in French seafood company Viviers de France.

The remaining 30% of Viviers de France will be retained by the company's current owners, Arnault Chaperon and Jean-Philippe Tachon. They are also to remain with the French company in management roles.

Along with the acquisition of Viviers, Aker is also acquiring additional quota for its Norwegian fishing fleet. It said both moves were in line with its aim to become a leading seafood company in Europe, where demand for premium seafood products from the north is continuing to grow.

France is Aker Seafoods' largest single market, representing 26% of its direct sales. The company said the acquisition would give it control over strategically located production and distribution capacity. Viviers has two processing plants, one in Boulogne-sur-Mer, serving northern France and Belgium, and one in Castets, serving the south of the country.

The company also has farming operations located in the Bordeaux and La Rochelle areas, as well as another plant in the Spanish Pyrenees. Viviers will record a turnover of around EUR60m (US$86m) in 2007.

"The contemplated transaction is in line with our strategy of broadening our product offering and expanding in new growth areas in the European seafood markets," said Aker CEO Yngve Myhre. "We expect the acquisition in France to increase revenue of consumer-packed fresh seafood products to quality-focused customers in Europe, and hence contribute to increased value and improved margins."
 
The deal, which remains subject to approval from French competition authorities, board approvals and staff consultations at Viviers de France, is expected to be officially completed in January.