Bancomext, the Mexican national development bank, has announced its agreement to sell Ocean Garden Products, a leading seafood importer and distributor based in San Diego, California, to a consortium of leading Mexican shrimp producers for US$15.1m in cash and the assumption of close to US$100m in debt.

Rabobank International’s Mexico and New York offices are acting as advisors to the consortium on the transaction, Rabobank said in a statement.  Bancomext has scheduled the transaction to be signed on 13 December 2005, and to close in February 2006, it said.

Ocean Garden Products is one of the largest seafood import/marketing companies in North America, currently handling approximately 25% of Mexico’s overall shrimp production, generating sales upwards of US$250m.

The acquiring consortium is comprised of Acuícola Boca, Granjas AquaTech, and Grupo Industrial Pesquero Mexicano, all leading producers from the State of Sonora, Mexico.

“This is a landmark privatization transaction that will significantly help further the development of the overall Mexican shrimp industry, one of the most important in the world,” said Ignacio Kleiman, executive director with Rabobank International’s M&A group in New York.

Jesus Lopez Borquez, a senior corporate banker with Rabobank International in Mexico City said, “This sale will unlock the growth potential of Ocean Garden Products, and greatly improve its competitive position in the US and Mexican market.”