£20m fundraise for biotech firm

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Biotech business, Benchmark Holdings has raised £20.7m by way of a placing from existing shareholders.

The announcement which will provide “additional headroom” and allow the business to maintain its momentum, comes as the Sheffield-based business which produces 50% of all salmon served in Europe has announced that revenues have returned to just above pre-pandemic levels for the year to 30 September 2021.

The biotech business which works in the aquaculture industry recored revenues of £125.1m for the year compared to £105.6m in 2020 and £124.0m in 2019.

The firm however has seen its operating losses drop by almost 60% over the year to £9.2m compared to £22.6m last year and £58.5m in 2019.

Trond-Williksen, CEO, Benchmark Holdings

The results its CEO Trond Williksen noted come as a result of a “new commercial focus” and “improving conditions” within the key markets such as the shrimp sector which was particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Williksen said: “FY21 was a year of laying firm foundations following a substantial reorganisation. We have reached our targets, establishing the base from which we can realise the potential Benchmark has with its unique position in the market.”

He added that the business has undertaken a “significant culture transformation” shifting to a more commercial focus having in 2020 streamlined the group in what at the time he described as a “transformational year”.

The CEO noted that a top priority had been the launch of its innovative sea lice treatment Ectosan®Vet and CleanTreat® in Norway which was achieved in August..

Looking ahead Williksen who has often talked about the aquaculture industry, as a young industry with a lot of “runway ahead of it to develop” said the business has “significant opportunities” which will make it a “cash-generative, profitable and growing group”.

He added of the £20.7m fundraise: “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.”

Benchmark has also confirmed that Atle Eide will join the board as a non-executive director. Eide has a wealth of experience in the seafood, aquaculture sectors and a record of helping drive growth and value.

Peter George, chairman at Benchmark Holdings added: “I am pleased to welcome Atle Eide to the Board. 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. I am looking forward to working with Atle.”