Benchmark Holdings plc

Company summary

Benchmark Holdings is listed on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM). I develops solutions in the food, agriculture, aquaculture and sustainability business sectors. It is an ethical company with an explicit policy based on the “3E’s” definition of sustainability – ethics, environment and economics – which guides its strategy and operations.

02 March 2015 | Animal Health

Company news

Equity Strategies advises on £41m deals in aquaculture breeding and genetics

Equity Strategies advised Benchmark Holdings plc on two strategic acquisitions in aquaculture breeding and genetics valued at £41m.

Supported by Equity Strategies, Benchmark Holdings plc (“Benchmark”), an international animal health, technical publishing and sustainability science business has acquired two key players in the salmon breeding and genetics sector.  

In December 2014, on the first anniversary of its AIM listing, Benchmark completed the acquisitions of Norwegian based SalmoBreed AS for an initial consideration of approximately £19.5m (and a £2.9m potential earn-out) and 89.5% of the Icelandic company, Stofnfiskur hf for an initial consideration of approximately £21.8m (and a £9.0m potential earn-out). 

Benchmark also raised £70m in a share placing led by Cenkos Securities to fund the acquisitions and other strategic objectives. The share placing was supported by existing investors, including Invesco, Woodford Investment Management and Lansdowne Partners and also attracted a number of new large fund management companies onto the shareholder register.

The acquisitions see the creation of a new Breeding & Genetics division in Benchmark to bring together the second and third largest players in the sector. Benchmark will draw on SalmoBreed’s strength in genetic development, seen as increasingly significant by the industry and Stofnfiskur’s impressive land based production facilities which benefit from Iceland’s unique geology and bio-secure environment to produce salmon eggs all year round.

Together the businesses create a number of synergies and new market opportunities and are a complementary fit with the existing Benchmark business as breeding technology is one of the primary drivers of efficient production, disease management and sustainability.

Equity Strategies are retained M&A advisers to Benchmark and provided strategic, origination and corporate finance advice on both transactions. This included   research, introductions, commercial evaluation and valuation, financial modelling, negotiation and project management.                                                                                                              

Malcolm Pye, Chief Executive, Benchmark Holdings plc commented, “Equity Strategies played an important role in helping us secure two highly sought after transactions simultaneously and in the process displayed creative, commercial and negotiating flair, technical know-how and great tenacity. With our institutional investors expressing strong support for further growth we look forward to working with Equity Strategies on future acquisition opportunities to help us meet our goal of becoming a leading global player in animal health and the development of a sustainable food chain.”

Leon Boros, Managing Director, Equity Strategies commented, “Having advised Benchmark on its IPO in 2013, we are delighted to have played such an important role in delivering these strategically important acquisitions in Norway and Iceland and look forward to helping Benchmark originate and complete more acquisitions in the future.”

Any potential acquisition opportunities should be  directed to Leon Boros at leon@equitystrategies.co.uk or addressed to:-

Mr Leon Boros, Managing Director, Equity Strategies Limited, Third Floor, New Liverpool House,15 Eldon Street, London, EC2M 7LD

Mobile: + 44 (0)7876 025758

Direct: + 44 (0) 203 793 7310

Web:  www.equitystrategies.co.uk

Links:

Company Web Site:

http://www.benchmarkplc.com/our-structure/

RNS:  Proposed Share Placing and Acquisition:

http://www.investegate.co.uk/benchmark-hlgs-plc—bmk-/rns/placing—-proposed-acquisitions-replacement/201411240700137713X/

 

Notes to Editor

Benchmark Holdings plc

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.

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 Company listed on AIM in December 2013 and has a diverse range of investors including Woodfood Investment Management, Invesco, Slater Investments, Landsdowne Partners, Hargreave Hale, Polar Capital, Miton Group and high net worth individuals. 

The existing Group has four divisions: Animal Health which research, manufactures and markets medicines and vaccines particularly for aquaculture; Sustainable Science which research and informs sustainable development in the food industry; Technical Publishing which effects technology transfer through online publishing and education and Animal Breeding and Genetics which play a primary role in the development of animal production efficiency, health, welfare and sustainability in the global livestock and aquaculture industries. Benchmark operates internationally with offices in the UK, Ireland, Norway, USA, Brazil, China, Russia and Thailand and, as at 1 November 2014, employed 226 people.

SalmoBreed AS

SalmoBreed is recognised as having world leading genetics, and was one of the first animal breeding companies to introduce the use of genetic marker and typing tools in its selection programmes and to launch salmon eggs with QTL (qualitative trait loci) for resistance to two of the key diseases in salmon.

SalmoBreed was founded by a consortium of Norwegian salmon farmers who operated it primarily as an internal supplier of genetics for the production of salmon eggs for their own farms and for distribution to third parties. Historically, SalmoBreeds’s revenues have been derived from the royalties paid for its genetic material by salmon egg producers being, up to completion of the SalmoBreed Acquisition, solely SalmoBreed’s existing shareholders. Benchmark, however, will operate SalmoBreed under a different business model such that going forward SalmoBreed’s revenues are expected to derive from the sale of salmon eggs produced from its genetic material by third party contract producers.

In addition, as part of the SalmoBreed Acquisition, SalmoBreed has entered into commercial arrangements with a number of SalmoBreed’s existing shareholders relating to the terms on which those companies will, following the SalmoBreed Acquisition, produce eggs for SalmoBreed, including the pricing of those eggs.

The consideration for SalmoBreed comprises an initial payment of NOK 205m  (approximately £19.5m) and up to an additional amount of NOK 30m (approximately £2.9m) under an earn out over three years upon the satisfaction of certain performance conditions.

Stofnfiskur hf

Stofnfiskur is a salmon breeding company founded in Iceland in 1991. Stofnfiskur is able to supply eggs outside of the natural salmon-breeding season, which allows the major salmon farming operators to improve the efficiency and the utilisation of their high capital processing operations by running them at stable and managed volumes throughout the year. The ‘out of season’ salmon eggs required to fuel this year-round production can only be produced in land-based controlled environment facilities. Iceland has a unique geology, which permits high volumes of bio-secure water from deep bore holes to be drawn at high volumes and at a range of temperatures and salinities. Stofnfiskur has the capability and capacity to make use of these natural conditions to produce eggs on a significant scale.

The consideration paid for 89.45 per cent. of Stofnfiskur comprises an upfront payment of ISK 4.32bn (approximately £21.9m) with up to an additional amount of up to ISK 1.77bn (approximately £9.0m) under an earn-out over three years.

Equity Strategies Limited

Equity Strategies is a deal origination and advisory corporate finance firm with a particular focus on the animal health, education and training sectors. Equity Strategies acts for a number of PLCs and private equity firms seeking acquisition opportunities in the UK and overseas. The firm also advises business owners on trade sales, raising private equity or preparing for an IPO.

The Company’s principals have managed corporate transactions in the mid-market arena with an aggregate value in excess of £500m in the animal health, education, training, outsourcing, IT, recruitment and transport sectors in deals ranging in value from £2m to £100m.

Equity Strategies is an Appointed Representative of Sapia Partners LLP which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

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