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01 April 2014 | Equity Strategies News | Benchmark IPO

Equity Strategies advise on £100m+ Animal Health IPO

Equity Strategies advised on the £100m+ IPO of Benchmark Holdings plc, the international animal health, technical publishing and sustainability science business founded by Malcolm Pye, Roland Bonney and Ruth Layton. Following a successful IPO on AIM on December 18th 2013 at 64p the share price has since increased to 89p, valuing the Company at £125m (April 23rd, 2014).

Equity Strategies was retained in the summer of 2013 to assess the relative merits of an IPO against other strategic options. Equity Strategies subsequently advised on a range of issues including board selection and the appointment of other advisers. Equity Strategies also advised on employee shares schemes. Post IPO over 90% of Benchmark's employees are now shareholders. 

Malcolm Pye, Chief Executive, Benchmark Holdings plc commented, “The Equity Strategies team worked hand in glove with the Benchmark management playing a unique and vital role in our journey to AIM contributing to our earliest strategic discussions all the way through to our eventual IPO in December 2013. They helped us short list and select our first class team of advisers, negotiated our advisers’ terms of reference and fees on our behalf, designed our employee share option schemes, helped us to select our excellent non-executive directors and above all guided us through the complex and difficult process as an impartial and trusted adviser." 

Equity Strategies has been retained by Benchmark to research acquisition opportunities.  

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Notes to Editor:

Founded in 2000, Benchmark represents a new model in sustainable business development. Over the last decade it has built a profitable group of companies on the economics of a sustainable food chain. The company is growing in response to a rapidly increasing demand for sustainable food chains, and in particular for seafood, from both mature and emerging markets. As demand can no longer be met by declining wild resources, it will necessitate the growth of sustainable farming systems around the world. Benchmark is an ethical company with an explicit policy based on the "3E's" definition of a sustainable business - ethics, environment and economics - which guides its strategy and operations.

The Group operates internationally with offices in the UK, Ireland, Norway, USA, Brazil, China and Thailand and, as at 30 September 2013, employed 157 people, approximately half of whom are educated to degree, professional specialist or PhD level.

Animal Health

Fish Vet Group and Benchmark Vaccines form the group's largest division, Animal Health, focusing on aquaculture health. The Group is exposed to the growth trends and drivers in aquaculture and in animal health, which are large markets. Aquaculture accounted for $119 billion in 2010, and it grew at an average annual rate of 8.8% between 1980 and 2010. Since then the aquaculture market has grown at an average annual rate of 6.3% (source: FAO - The State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture 2012).

Technical Publishing

With 13 online publications in three languages, the Group's technical publishing business, 5M, sits primarily within the agriculture segment of the STM (Science, technical and medical) publishing market. 5M also offers 4 distance learning courses in Sustainable Aquaculture in partnership with the University of St. Andrews. These online courses allow students to continue in work while studying part time, in order to attain a recognised certificate in the profession without taking time out of work. 5M plans to expand this programme to new territories, in particular in the US in combination with the University of Maine and in South America. 

Sustainability Division

This division is made up of companies working in collaboration with its customers on research and development of sustainable food and farming business management and technologies. Verdantix estimates the global sustainability consulting market to be $13.8 billion. Of this $1.2 billion is categorised as strategic and management consulting services and $12.6 billion relates to technical sustainability consulting.  trieSM operates in the sustainability, strategic and management consulting sector while FAI and RL Consulting operate in the technical sustainability consulting space. 

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