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Benchmark Holdings has agreed a deal worth £227 million to acquire INVE Aquaculture, a specialist manufacturer of nutrition and health products which are aimed largely at hatcheries.

INVE can trace its roots to the University of Ghent, where it launched as Artemia Systems NV, back in 1983 - producing artemia for the growing sea bass, sea bream and shrimp industries.

The company currently has two main production facilities, in Thailand and Belgium, and also includes a marine finfish fry production facility in Italy, and a testing centre for larval and post-larval shrimp production products in Thailand. As well as providing live artemia, the company has several dry diets, also aimed at hatchery production, as well as a range of disinfectants, probiotics and healthboosters for a selection of cultured species.

Indeed, the deal will add 40 products (some of which are still under development) to Benchmark’s portfolio and will add nutritional expertise to Benchmark's established health and genetics programmes.

In a press release issued this morning, Malcolm Pye, Chief Executive of Benchmark, commented: "The acquisition of INVE makes Benchmark a global leader in the aquaculture technology market overnight. Aquaculture is not only a multi-billion dollar sector but one of the fastest growing in the food industry. Importantly we believe the teams at Benchmark and INVE share a common ethos and culture. Both companies have a history of working collaboratively with partners to develop technologies, and both have a drive to address one of the most pressing issues of our time in developing a healthy, sustainable food chain."

"Since listing, Benchmark has a proven track record of successfully integrating acquisitions – as with SalmoBreed and StofnFiskur last year – and this deal underpins our future growth ambitions. The potential opportunities and synergies presented by INVE offer a step-up both in terms of the technology applied in our products, and the marketing and distribution network already present in some of the fastest growing markets in the world."

Philippe Léger, CEO of INVE, commented: "Stimulating healthy growth and performance in aquaculture has always been INVE Aquaculture's main driver. Becoming part of the Benchmark group will definitely reinforce this. This new milestone on our growth path unlocks INVE's inherent potential to serve our customers globally with the industry's most comprehensive portfolios of specialized aquaculture products.

“Benchmark's toolbox of health and genetics solutions will complete INVE's current offering in advanced nutritional and health products. Together we will become a unique knowledge and solutions platform that supports our customers in taking better care throughout the culture lifecycle. As a result we can more effectively than ever contribute to our clients' sustainable growth and long-term success."

Of the headline consideration, £199 million will be payable in cash and £28 million will be satisfied through the issue of Consideration Shares. The cash consideration is being financed by a placing of new shares to new and existing institutional investors, raising approximately £185.7 million through the placing of 215,922,141 new Benchmark shares at 86p per share. The balance will be satisfied with debt funding from HSBC and Rabobank.

If the resolutions are approved by shareholders, it is expected that the acquisition will be completed on 30 December.