Aquaculture for all

Benchmark bids to find a buyer

Atlantic Salmon Shrimp Formulated feed +10 more

The board of the aquaculture genetics, nutrition and health business, Benchmark Holdings, is considering selling the company, it revealed in a market announcement this week.

Trond Williksen, CEO of Benchmark

The Fish Site was sold by Benchmark to Hatch Blue in 2020

Benchmark employs more than 800 people worldwide, with a focus on production of salmon ova, specialist feeds for juvenile salmon, marine fish and shrimp, and health products that include the sea lice treatments Salmosan, Cleantreat and Ectosan.

According to the announcement, the board “believes that the current share price materially undervalues the combined value of Benchmark's businesses and the long-term prospects of the company, which may at least in part be due to the tightly held and illiquid nature of its ordinary shares.”

“As a result, having consulted with the company's major shareholders, the board has unanimously decided to undertake a formal review of the company's strategic options… including, but not limited to, a sale of the company as a whole or alternatively the potential sale of one or more individual business units, to establish whether there is a bidder or bidders prepared to offer a value for the company or its individual business units that the board considers attractive,” the announcement continues.

The company's most significant shareholders include Ferd, which owns 25.95 percent; JNE Partners, with 22.74 percent; and Kverva Finans, with 22.35 percent.

Benchmark emphasises that it has not yet entered into discussions with any interested parties and adds that any future discussions in relation to an offer for the company will take place on a confidential basis. Parties interested in making a proposal are advised to contact Benchmark's financial advisers, Evercore and Rabobank.

An improving performance

Benchmark highlights that plans to sell follows a three-year period that has “delivered substantial revenue growth and improvement in profitability and cash conversion”

Since the financial year (FY) 2020, Benchmark's revenue has grown from £105.4 million to £169 million in FY23 and adjusted EBITDA has increased from £15.5 million to £35.5 million.

“The company is well positioned, with a strong balance sheet and significant headroom to grow within its existing markets, as well as multiple potential avenues for expansion,” it claims.

For the full year ended 30 September 2023, Benchmark delivered 7 percent revenue growth, 15 percent increase in adjusted EBITDA and improved its operational cash conversion from 35 percent to 58 percent, despite challenging conditions in the shrimp sector, one of the company's core markets.

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