Pure Salmon begins $700m fundraising for five China RAS units

8F Investment Partners is raising capital for the China portion of its $1.6 billion plan to produce 260,000 metric tons of salmon in recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) farms globally, Martin Fothergill, a co-founder and partner with the rm, told Undercurrent News on its recent webinar.

The rm had previously said fundraising for the China plans would begin once its “phase one” raise was completed. In March 2020, it announced it had completed its rst round of fundraising for Pure Salmon, bringing in $358.8 million to construct facilities in Japan, France, and the US.

Now, Fothergill said, attention turns to plans for China, where 8F is looking to build 20,000 metric ton sites in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, home to 21m, 8m, 24m, 13m and 13m, people, respectively. “We’re looking globally at high population, high consumption, high wealth areas,” he said previously.

For this 100,000t project 8F aims to raise $700m.

Phase one will see a 10,000t unit in France, another in Japan, and a 20,000t facility in the US.

“The raise was quite interesting actually, we’ve had an extremely prestigious investor base for this project, including sovereign wealth funds, insurance, pension, corporates, large family offices, which I think in itself serves not just as a vote of confidence for Pure Salmon, but also for the industry and where it’s headed.”

“There’s no doubt that we’ve also had a significant amount of investigation and due diligence by these investors and their consultants into what we’re doing, topics around scaling up — most of the facilities out there are smaller, and we’re one of the companies taking it to that next scalable level.”

The first three projects are at various stages of pre-construction, going through the steps of permitting and engaging building firms and consultants, he said.

Construction should begin in 2020, beginning in Japan, he said.

He went on to discuss the importance of recruitment and experience when it comes to launching these projects, and revealed 8F has launched what it calls the “Pure Salmon Academy”, the focus of which is to train people in theory and practice around land-based farming technology.

“That’s a program that’s being set up now, well ahead of when we’re going to have our first large scale projects in place. I think that gives everybody a sense of how important we feel staffing is and experience is.”

He also noted that at this stage, Pure Salmon is partly a construction company, and has made “some very senior hires on the construction side”. These hires have been made at the company’s central management company, based in Abu Dhabi, as well as locally on the ground, he said.

Construction is expected to begin on the first project in China this year, while the location of the first project there has not been announced.

8F has also announced plans to build a 20,000t farm in the Kingdom of Lesotho, an enclaved country in the border of South Africa. This has already been partly funded by the Lesotho National Development Corporation, a government-backed firm overseeing the implementation of development projects in the country.

As for where the additional 100,000t of production will be, Fothergill said an additional site in the US is likely, with the Middle East and Southeast Asia also possible.