Benchmark eyes stock market listing after raising USD 28 million
Sheffield, U.K.-headquartered aquaculture biotechnology business Benchmark Holdings has raised GBP 20.7 million (USD 27.6 million, EUR 24.3 million) before expenses through a share issue ahead of a possible listing on the Oslo Stock Exchange.
Alongside delivering its improved results for the fiscal year 2021, Benchmark confirmed its new funding had been raised through a placement from existing and new shareholders through the issue of 33,106,620 new ordinary shares of GBP 0.001 each at a price of GBP 0.62 (USD 0.83, EUR 0.73) per share, and the proposed subscription by certain directors of the company for GBP 200,000 (USD 267,039, EUR 235,045) of new ordinary shares of GBP 0.001 each.
The company said the net proceeds of the placing will provide the company with “additional headroom” to maintain its momentum and to continue to fund its ongoing growth initiatives, which may include additional CleanTreat systems to support the roll-out of its new sea lice solution Ectosan Vet and CleanTreat.
Following a review of the company’s structure, the board said that it is considering a listing in Oslo, which it said would give it access to “[the market's] unique financial aquaculture ecosystem and global base of specialist sector investors and analysts.” The company has appointed DnB Markets and Pareto Securities as advisers on this potential listing.
Benchmark CEO Trond Williksen said the company had delivered a good financial performance in 2021, which he said demonstrated the success of its renewed commercial focus and financial discipline.
“We have a positive outlook with good momentum in our business, attractive market dynamics, and significant growth opportunities,” he said. "We are pleased with the strong shareholder support demonstrated by the placing being successfully executed at market price, and the placing proceeds will provide additional headroom to maintain this momentum and to continue to fund our ongoing growth initiatives.”
The company’s FY2021 results included an 18 percent growth in revenue to GBP 125.1 million (USD 167.1 million, EUR 147 million), and a 34 percent lift in its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (adjusted EBITDA) at GBP 19.4 million (USD 25.9 million, EUR 22.8 million).
The company's investments during the financial year totaled GBP 23 million (USD 30.7 million, EUR 27 million) of capex, while Benchmark's cash and net debt positions as of 30 September 2021 were GBP 39.5 million (USD 52.7 million, EUR 46.4 million) and GBP 80.9 million (USD 107.9 million, EUR 95 million), respectively.
While overall, the company posted an operating loss of GBP 5.4 million (USD 7.2 million, EUR 6.3 million), that was an improvement over its 2020 fiscal year, during which it lost GBP 10.9 million (USD 14.6 million, EUR 12.8 million). Benchmark's results statement said there had been “strong trading performance and strategic progress” across its three business areas.
Its advanced nutrition segment returned to growth, driven by a renewed commercial focus and recovery in the shrimp markets. The segment’s revenue increased by 19 percent to GBP 70.5 million (USD 94.1 million, EUR 82.8 million). There was also continued revenue growth for its genetics segment, with revenues totaling GBP 46.8 million (USD 62.5 million, EUR 55 million), up 13 percent on FY2020. Revenues for its health segment were up 50 percent at GBP 7.8 million (USD 10.4 million, EUR 9.2 million).
"2021 was a very successful year for Benchmark with much accomplished financially, operationally and strategically,” Williksen said. “There is good momentum in our business, helped by positive conditions in our markets contributing to a good start to the new financial year across all business areas, consistent with our outlook for the year as a whole.”
The company has also appointed seafood industry veteran Atle Eide as non-executive director. Eide previously worked as chairman of SalMar and CEO of Mowi. He is currently chairman of aquaculture innovation and technology company ScaleAQ, and is also a member of the Norwegian Seafood Federation. Benchmark confirmed Eide is not an independent director, given his previous role as a director of Kverva AS, a significant shareholder in the company.
"Atle brings a wealth of experience in the seafood, aquaculture sectors, and as an investor has a track record in helping drive growth and value," Benchmark Chairman Peter George said.
Photo courtesy of Benchmark Holdings