Benchmark Holdings Plc - Update on Joint Venture with AquaChile
Benchmark, the aquaculture health, nutrition and genetics business, today announces an update on its joint venture (JV) with AquaChile, its Chilean breeding and genetics partner. In January 2019 Agrosuper completed the acquisition of AquaChile; as a consequence, Benchmark has the opportunity to take control of a salmon breeding operation in Chile currently owned by the JV, allowing it to pursue an independent strategy. The Company is in discussions with AquaChile regarding the dissolution of the joint venture.
The discussions envisage a return of the Company's original equity investment in the JV, together with Benchmark's IP rights, the genetic stock and biomass, and resources sufficient to operate the 50m egg facility. The Company expects to reinvest the returned funds in the wholly owned business in the coming years to allow the Company to enhance biosecurity and achieve full scale production at the bio-secure, land based facility. The Company expects that the proposed strategy will deliver returns in line with those set out when entering the JV.
Benchmark Genetics, under the joint venture with AquaChile, has been successful in accelerating its entry into the Chilean market as a local player with the launch of Benchmark Genetics Chile in October 2018, and the successful establishment of its genetics programme locally, creating a strong platform for growth. Chile is the world's second largest salmon producing country, and an important market in Benchmark's long term strategy.
Malcolm Pye, Benchmark Chief Executive, commented:
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to fully own the world class salmon breeding facility currently owned by the JV and to reinvest the funds to move towards full scale production and commercialisation. We look forward to strengthening both our relationships and cooperation with existing and new partners in Chile.
"Whilst this marks a change to Benchmark's approach to the market, it is a positive step towards fulfilling our key objective of accelerating our establishment of a strong local presence in this important market, in line with our strategy."