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11 August 2016

Benchmark expands breeding and genetics offering

Acquisition of South American shrimp breeding programme and placing of 47.3m shares

Benchmark is pleased to announce we have today expanded our breeding and genetics offering through the acquisition of a South American breeding programme.

The acquired business, headquartered in Colombia, operates breeding programmes for the species (L. vannamei) dominating the global shrimp sector, as well as for the marine finfish species cobia and grouper. The advanced shrimp selection programme has been particularly successful, and has bred populations with high level of resistance to certain of the major diseases affecting the shrimp industry worldwide. It is estimated that up to 40% of tropical shrimp production (>$3bn) is lost annually to disease, and according to the World Bank, production of farmed shrimp is expected to grow by 50 to 60% through to 2030.

Through the acquisition, the enlarged Group has a unique opportunity to utilise the global distribution channels within our Advanced Animal Nutrition division (INVE Aquaculture), providing significantly broader routes to market for our shrimp genetics. In addition, we have the opportunity to cross-sell shrimp broodstock and seed alongside INVE’s existing shrimp nutrition products. An experienced team of world-renowned scientists will join the Group as part of this transaction. The team have a long standing  relationship with Benchmark’s Breeding & Genetics division, and the breeding programme will continue to benefit from the advanced genetic selection services offered by Benchmark’s aquaculture genetics technology business Akvaforsk Genetics Center (AFGC).

Commenting on the acquisition, Malcolm Pye, Chief Executive of Benchmark said:

“This important acquisition strengthens our unique package of products and services that are urgently needed in the aquaculture industry today. It adds the third major aquaculture species shrimp to our already strong aquaculture breeding business in Salmon and Tilapia, and increases our market penetration into the fast-growing shrimp industry. There is strong and growing customer demand globally for disease resilient shrimp, which are more robust and deliver better yields. This acquisition provides us with very high calibre broodstock to meet that need, offering a substantial commercial opportunity for the Company and enhancing our growing reputation in aquaculture breeding and genetics.”

Benchmark last week announced the placing of 47.3m new ordinary shares to also fund a number of planned joint ventures and capital projects including:

  • A joint venture with Salten Stamfisk AS to build a new combined land and sea based production unit in Norway that will produce a year-round supply of salmon eggs (ova) from biosecure facilities.  This is expected to open up new market opportunities for biosecure ova and meet demand growth which has been driven by the success of Benchmark’s genetics and overall industry production growth.
  • A joint venture with a major salmon producer to provide outsourced breeding and genetics services.
  • Investment in new technology that is expected to enhance the existing pipeline of new animal health products

The Group brings together core biological disciplines to provide products and services urgently needed today — whilst investing in the capacity and technology to solve problems of tomorrow.