Land-based salmon farm owner settles lawsuit alleging he owed millions from sale of engineering company

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Whole Oceans’ parent company, Emergent Holdings, has settled with former owners of PR Aqua, which is involved in the engineering and design of recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) for long-delayed land-based salmon farming. in Maine.

The terms of the settlement, announced in court documents in April, were not disclosed.

Nicholas Pranger and Gabriel Pranger of Indiana-based consulting firm GNP filed a lawsuit against Emergent last July in an Indiana court, alleging it was the only way to get Emergent to pay them the money. of.

The two are the former owners of BC-based PR Aqua and said they reached a purchase agreement with Emergent in 2019 to sell PR Aqua to Emergent for $3.25 million. .

Through GNP, Nicholas Pranger has agreed to continue to provide management and executive services to and for PR Aqua for five years under this agreement.

The complaint stated that despite reaching an agreement in May 2019, as of May 2021, Emergent still owed Nicholas and Gabriel Pranger the majority of those funds.

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As of June 2021, Emergent still owed more than $2.5 million (€2.4 million), according to court documents, which the defendants asked Emergent to pay.

Emerging stings in return

In response to the complaint filed last September, lawyers for Emergent told the court that the company made a cash payment of $3 million (€2.8 million) upon the closing of the sale of PR Aqua and had also executed a $3.25 million (€3.1 million) payout. promissory note payable to the owners of the GNP.

Emergent said GNP had failed and lacked “the skill set to effectively manage the company’s projects, often underestimating or severely underestimating project costs and schedules”, regarding Kuterra and Whole Oceans. .

Kuterra, which opened in 2013 in British Columbia, is one of the oldest land-based facilities to date for salmon farming.

The ‘Namgis First Nation in British Columbia owns the property where Kuterra operates, and Whole Oceans owns the assets. Whole Oceans also leases the property from the ‘Namgis and has entered into an agreement with them for the production of salmon on the site since 2019.

Emergent’s attorneys alleged that GNP persuaded Emergent to invest in Kuterra’s expansion based on a business plan of 800 metric tons of new production on a budget of $6.5 million (6 .2 million euros). Later, the consultant “inexplicably changed those plans” to 1,350 metric tons of new production for a budget of more than $37.9 million (36 million euros), according to lawyers for Emergent.

With the Whole Oceans project, GNP presented a business plan of 250 million dollars (237 million euros), which today amounts to nearly 400 million dollars (380 million euros), according to Emergent.

Emergent’s attorneys said the increased costs were the result of “Nick Granger’s poor planning and failure to consider numerous equipment and other materials required for the project.”

Whole Oceans said in April that it expects to begin construction work in 2023 on its Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) Atlantic salmon production facility at the site of the former Verso paper mill in Bucksport, in Maine.

The project, which has been in limbo after months of delays and a series of senior management departures, is now being prepared for construction on previously approved land, according to Whole Oceans senior project manager Mike Thompson.

When announced in 2018, the team behind Whole Oceans land-based salmon farming said $250 million would be poured into the rural town of Bucksport, a pledge that won the enthusiastic support from Maine State Senators Susan Collins and Angus King. , and then Governor Paul LePage.

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