Advertisement

N.L. fishery leader Blaine Sullivan emerges as preferred bidder for Harbour Grace shipyard

Blaine Sullivan has emerged as the preferred bidder for the insolvent shipyard in Harbour Grace. The matter will be on the docket Thursday at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Adam Walsh/CBC - image credit)
Blaine Sullivan has emerged as the preferred bidder for the insolvent shipyard in Harbour Grace. The matter will be on the docket Thursday at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. (Adam Walsh/CBC - image credit)

A company owned by Blaine Sullivan, a well-known leader in Newfoundland and Labrador's fishing industry, has emerged as the preferred bidder for the insolvent shipyard in Harbour Grace.

The advisory firm that's monitoring the court-supervised restructuring and sales process, PricewaterhouseCoopers, revealed in documents published this week on its website that it supports a sale of the yard to Green Skiff Investments.

Green Skiff is owned by Sullivan, who is best known as the president of Ocean Choice International, one of the province's largest seafood harvesting, processing and marketing companies.

Sullivan confirmed, when reached by phone in Toronto on Wednesday afternoon, that he has been told by PWC that he is the successful bidder.

PWC is expected to seek approval for the sale during a hearing at the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador on Thursday morning.

If the sale is approved, Sullivan said, he plans to work hard to rejuvenate the yard, which is owned by a company called Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises.

"There's a lot of good people there, and I think the business is there for this type of yard and the location is there," Sullivan said.

The Petten's Legacy was launched early Monday morning in Harbour Grace and is likely the largest and most expensive vessel ever built at a Newfoundland and Labrador shipyard for use in the modern inshore fishing fleet. The vessel is owned by the Petten family of Port de Grave, and her name is a tribute to the late Dwight Petten, who died a year ago.

The Petten's Legacy, constructed over the last two years at the Harbour Grace shipyard, was launched last month. (Submitted by Mark Blundon)

Sullivan would not disclose the purchase price but said he plans to make future investments to expand the shipyard.

"It wouldn't be fair really to do that without good collaboration with management and laying out a more carefully thought-out plan," Sullivan replied when asked about his vision for the yard.

Harbour Grace Ocean Enterprises, with nearly $16 million in debt, was granted court protection in early November from creditors who were demanding payment. The yard has continued to operate, with more than 40 employees on the payroll as of Wednesday.

PWC, appointed monitor under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act, initiated a sale and investment solicitation process.

Sullivan, the highest bidder, is poised to become owner of one of the largest shipyards in Atlantic Canada if a judge signs off on the deal.

Sullivan said he's previously done business with the yard through his affiliation with Ocean Choice and an aquaculture service company called N.L. Marine and is impressed with the facility and its people.

"I think it's it's certainly interesting to continue on with the type of work in the Harbour Grace area," said Sullivan.

When asked what his message is to the workers at the yard, Sullivan said, "I'm there to work with them and want to continue to build on some of the great projects they've already done."

4 bids received by deadline

According to PWC documents, the monitor received four bids for the yard by the Jan. 29 deadline. The monitor asked the bidders to resubmit their best bids, and two of the four raised their offers. The monitor then asked the remaining two bidders to again improve their bids, and only Sullivan's company responded.

"The proposed transaction allows for the continuation of the company's business as a going concern, preserving employment, as well as customer and supplier relationships for the benefit of the Harbour Grace community and the Newfoundland and Labrador economy generally," the PWC document reads.

The two secured creditors, BMO and BDC, are "supportive of the transaction," according to the document.

Download our free CBC News app to sign up for push alerts for CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. Click here to visit our landing page.