Pescanova and the vermin of corruption

Urgoiti’s message, which was echoed by most of Spanish newspapers on Friday and international financial agencies like Reuters, came a day after Undercurrent News first reported that core banks lending to Pescanova would sell its international assets, particularly the branches in Chile whose economic value is deemed to be key for the corporation’s bailout but whose situation is in such a legalese mess that it only brings even more headaches to the parent company.

“We have undertaken every possible step, and will keep doing so (?!) while in constant conversations with trustees in Chile and other foreign subsidiaries”, Urgoiti wrote. Of course, he did not make sense either in any of the paragraphs following this broken promise.

The former banker, who presides the board since September 2013 and has the explicit support of majority stakeholder Damm, used such a lachrymose language to defend the continuity of Pescanova it is doing rounds in translations into English and Norwegian.

Yet, no one is laughing. In a nutshell, Pescanova has rapidly become a sad synonym for Spain’s acute travails.

“If Pescanova has been capable of surviving the past financial year, during which it has had to face all adversities one could imagine, and if it still convinces everybody it can be viable, it is beyond any reasonable doubt that it deserves a good fight,” claimed Urgoiti.

And there you have it: a great enterprise, once sitting among the top ten stock market-listed companies of the world’s seafood royalty members, dragged down to a horrendous defeat by the rogue, by the corrupted, by the same villains that again and again reveal their ugly faces whenever one searches into the rotten roots of Spain’s too long economic suffering.

Urgoiti himself remarked that all Pescanova’s business units are functioning at a good pace, despite the lack of agreement between creditors and the control bid accepted by Pescanova’s board last December, led by Damm in a joint platform with investment funds Damm, Ergon, KKR and Luxempart.

Well, yes, Pescanova was a great achievement of the Spanish fishing industry. Very few investors and competitors have written it off completely. They cannot believe Pescanova can be, not just brought to its knees but beheaded and torn apart, its debris scattered among debt holders –a €3.6 billion-sized debt as staggering as the bails imposed by judges on former managers and directors.

The Spanish courts have ordered that all restructuring plans for Pescanova must be submitted by Feb. 28, with a final deal to be signed by creditors before March 31 this year. Only the gods might be in the know about its destiny. Whichever it is, everybody will lament it.

About the Author

Victor Jimenez
London contributor at, reporting about the City and the Eurozone economies. He regularly writes for Spanish newspaper group Prensa Ibérica--some of his features include shared work with journalists of The Daily Telegraph and the BBC.

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