Benchmark Holdings, which operates numerous sustainable biotechnology and agriculture companies, will tomorrow announce its takeover of fish food business Inve Aquaculture from Royal Bank of Scotland and Rabobank.
AIM-listed Benchmark paid $342m (£225m) – $300m in cash and the rest in shares – for Inve, which manufactures nutrition and health products for shrimp nurseries in 70 countries.
The acquisition, which has been three years in the pipeline, was funded by a £185.7m shares placing to new and existing institutional investors, including Neil Woodford, Invesco and Allianz.
The 215m shares were issued for 86p each, a discount of 7.53 per cent, to the 93p share price when trading was suspended before the announcement of the deal. The purchase price represents 14.1 times Inve’s adjusted post tax profits for 2014.
Malcolm Pye, chief executive of Benchmark, said:
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. Both companies have a drive to address one of the most pressing issues of our time in developing a healthy, sustainable food chain.
Benchmark has said it intends to build a diversified and balanced food sustainability group by growing its existing businesses and expanding into new business sectors with targeted M&A.
Despite the fact that Benchmark is AIM-listed, the deal is technically a reverse takeover (when a private company takes over a larger public one and effectively becomes publicly traded) and so is subject to shareholder approval. It is expected to complete on 30 December.
Inve's management team will remain with the combined company, and will retain its interest in the company.