Trident Seafoods has agreed to purchase NorQuest Seafoods for an undisclosed amount.
"The parties are very serious, and are committed to doing this," said John Garner, a former principal owner of NorQuest who will rejoin and become president of NorQuest once the sale is complete. "I think it's the best interest of both companies."
The companies will perform due diligence and other sale-related work in the next 30 days. If the sale is finalized, NorQuest will be a stand-alone subsidiary of Trident, said Garner.
Both of the Washington-based companies have processing facilities in Ketchikan. Trident operates a salmon cannery, while the NorQuest plant processes fresh and frozen seafoods.
NorQuest has operated three other shore-based processing plants in Alaska, including in Petersburg, Cordova and Chignik. It also operates two floating processors.
The privately held Trident is the largest American-owned seafood company operating in the United States, according to Trident information.
Trident was founded in 1973 by Chuck Bundrant, a former Alaska king crab fisherman who remains active in the company, according to Trident. Several other investors are involved in the company, including agricultural product giant ConAgra, which has a minority stake.
It now has 10 primary shore processing plants and four secondary plants, in addition to floating processors, factory trawlers and other fishing vessels, according to company information.
In addition to salmon, Trident also produces various crab, pollock, cod, rockfish and sole products.
NorQuest was formed in 1992 by the merger of Silver Lining Seafoods - started in Ketchikan in 1981 - and Lafayette Fisheries Inc.
For NorQuest, the affiliation with Trident would provide access to a customer base that NorQuest hadn't had before, said Garner, adding that the new arrangement should benefit fishermen as well as processing communities.