UPDATE: Benchmark Holdings raises GBP21 million, eyes Oslo listing

(Alliance News) - Benchmark Holdings PLC said Monday it has raised GBP20.7 million in new equity ...

Alliance News 29 November, 2021 | 3:06PM
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(Alliance News) - Benchmark Holdings PLC said Monday it has raised GBP20.7 million in new equity to invest in its products, amid a strong outlook for the seafood industry that it serves.

The Sheffield, England-based aquaculture genetics, health and nutrition company said it placed 33.1 million new shares at 62.0 pence each to raise GBP20.5 million, while subscription to 295,000 shares by company directors at the same price added GBP200,000. Benchmark shares were trading down 0.6% at 62.10p on AIM in London on Monday afternoon.

Major shareholder Ferd AS, a Norwegian investment firm, took 12.3 million of the shares on offer, worth GBP7.6 million, and now has 185.4 million shares, a 26.3% stake.

Numis Corp PLC acted as nominated adviser, broker and bookrunner for the placing.

Benchmark said the fresh cash will be used to support the roll-out of its Ectosan Vet and CleanTreat sea-lice treatments.

Benchmark also has appointed Atle Eide as a non-executive director. Eide is chair of aquaculture firm Scale AQ and a member of the Norwegian Seafood Federation. Eide is former director of Kverva AS, a significant shareholder in Benchmark, so he will be considered a non-independent director.

Benchmark said it is considering a listing in Oslo and has appointed DnB Markets as well as Pareto Securities as advisers for this. The company noted that it has NOK850 million, about GBP70 million, in bonds maturing in June 2023, and that Oslo is the world's largest seafood-focused market.

Benchmark also Monday reported fourth quarter and annual results.

In the financial year that ended September 30, its pretax loss from continuing operations narrowed to GBP9.2 million from GBP22.6 million a year ago, as revenue rose by 18% to GBP125.1 million from GBP105.6 million. Total pretax loss narrowed to GBP11.6 million from GBP31.9 million.

In the fourth quarter alone, pretax loss from continuing operations widened to GBP3.2 million from GBP2.9 million, despite revenue rising by 48% to GBP37.3 million from GBP25.2 million. At the operating profit level, Benchmark swung to a profit of GBP500,000 from a loss of GBP2.8 million. Total pretax loss was GBP5.7 million, narrowed from GBP8.8 million.

Looking ahead, Benchmark said it currently is trading in line with expectations for the new financial year. It said salmon markets remain "solid" with a "positive outlook for continuous growth". Shrimp markets are showing recovery, the company said, while sea bass and sea bream market have recovered and are stable.

"The group delivered a strong financial performance across its three business areas reflecting our new commercial focus and supported by improving conditions, particularly in our important shrimp market which had been hardest hit by the pandemic," commented Chief Executive Officer Trond Williksen.

"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."

By Tom Waite; thomaslwaite@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2021 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security Name Price Change (%) Morningstar
Numis Corp PLC 322.00 GBX 3.87 -
Benchmark Holdings PLC 54.25 GBX 2.36 -

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