Benchmark will run the Chilean breeding operation on its own after the end of the JV with AquaChile. Photo: Benchmark.

Benchmark handed £6.8m as it goes solo in Chile

UK-based aquaculture health, nutrition and genetics business Benchmark Holdings today announced that it will receive US$8.75 million (£6.8m) from AquaChile as the second and final payment due following the dissolution of a short-lived joint venture with the salmon farmer.

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In June last year Benchmark and AquaChile signed an agreement to form a £19m breeding and genetics joint venture, Benchmark Genetics Chile, with the intention of producing salmon ova at AquaChile’s Chaicas high-quality biosecure land-based facility

The end of the JV was announced a year later, following AquaChile’s acquisition by Agrosuper. Under the terms of the split AquaChile agreed to refund Benchmark’s original $16.25m investment through an initial payment of $7.5m and a second payment of $8.75m which Benchmark confirmed today.

Maturation of broodstock

As part of the dissolution agreement Benchmark has taken ownership of a separate land-based facility at Ensenada and control of the salmon breeding operation previously belonging to the joint venture. It has received the intellectual property rights, genetics stock and biomass in the JV.  

The company said the Ensenada facility is a highly bio-secure hatchery situated in the Los Lagos region, with good access to spring water required for the production of high-quality eyed eggs suitable for the Chilean industry.

It added that the facility is being adapted to be suitable for maturation of broodstock, spawning and fertilisation of eggs, and it is expected that the first eggs from the new facility will be available in H1 2021.

Benchmark concluded: “Chile is the world’s second largest salmon producing country and is an important market in Benchmark’s long-term strategy. We remain focused on achieving full scale production at this bio-secure, land-based facility.”