It’s the moment shareholders at Fremantle-based fishery Mareterram have been waiting for since 2016: they’ve finally got a takeover bid from Sea Harvest.

The South African deep sea fisher has made an all-cash bid of 25c a share, a 25 per cent premium to the last traded price and valuing the company at $38.6 million.

The bidder will pay $16.9m for the shares it doesn’t already won.

Shareholders representing 19 per cent of the company have already accepted the offer.

Sea Harvest already owns 56.28 per cent of Mareterram (ASX:MTM) after lobbing a proportional bid in 2016 for half of the shares in the company it didn’t own.

Massive downgrade from last offer

The offer is a massive downgrade from the 35c Sea Harvest was offering in 2016.

It is an example of the risk of holding out for more money later when an offer is on the table.

Managing director and CEO James Clement says the South Africans paid a “significant premium” last time to gain control of Mareterram, and this time the offer is more in line with their view of the current value of the company.

This is why the company’s three non-Sea Harvest directors and Mr Clement are recommending shareholders accept the offer, provided an independent expert agrees the price is fair.

Mareterram shares are still in a trading halt, but have slid in the years since Sea Harvest launched its first offer.

In November they hit the lowest point the stock has reached since reforming as a Freo-fishery, at 17c. It went into the trading halt on February 4 at 20.5c.

The last time

In 2016, Sea Harvest already owned 19.9 per cent through a subsidiary after buying in when a prior iteration of Mareterram, a company called Style, bought a fisheries business that had dealings with the South African company in 2015.

The bid failed to deliver all of the shares Sea Harvest was looking for, but gave it a controlling stake.

Sea Harvest slowly sank its hooks further into Mareterram over time, selling the Australian minnow its retail business in December 2016 so it became the exclusive Aussie sales agent.

In 2018 Mareterram changed its financial year to match that of its largest shareholder.

The bid is conditional on Sea Harvest receiving at least 90 per cent acceptances into the offer, which means they need only shareholders who hold only 15 per cent of the company who haven’t already accepted to say yes.