New Zealand seafood company Sanford Limited has said it has been in preliminary stages of discussion regarding a possible merger with Sealord Group and Pacific Marine Farms.

Sanford said the impact of the high NZ dollar, lower than expected catches of hoki, the difficult market environment for greenshell mussels and high fuel prices are all issues that have been the subject of various discussions on possible industry cooperation.

Sanford said that it has been engaged in discussions on “possible and positive industry rationalisation”, and that one of the options being explored could lead to a proposal for a merger between Sanford, Sealord Group and Pacific Marine Farms.

“While these discussions and investigations have commenced nothing has yet advanced to the stage where any firm or formal proposals have gone to the boards of directors of any companies,” Sanford said.

“There is nothing which can be announced at this stage, beyond the fact that we are talking with each other, while looking at various possible concepts for the future benefit of the industry generally and of both companies and their respective shareholders,” the company added.

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Sanford said any merger proposals would require extensive shareholder, regulatory and other approvals.