Benchmark Holdings, a aquaculture genetics, health and advanced nutrition company, has completed the sale of its wholly owned subsidiary FishVet Group (FVG) to Pharmaq, part of the global animal health company Zoetis, for a total cash consideration of between £14.4 million (€15.9 million/$17.8 million) and £14.7 million (€16.2 million/$18.2 million).

The sale comprises Benchmark's veterinary and diagnostic services activities in the UK, Ireland, Norway and Chile. The final cash amount will depend on certain final costs to be borne by Benchmark.

The transaction is another step in Benchmark's strategy to exit non-core areas and focus on its key disciplines in the global aquaculture markets.

The sale of FishVet, together with the sale of Improve International announced on June 23, raised £27.3 million (€30.1 million/$33.8 million), including £3.3 million (€3.6 million/$4.1 million) in deferred consideration, in line with expectations. The move strengthened the group's financial position and liquidity.

To date, Benchmark has sold or exited seven businesses generating up to £30.3 million (€33.4 million/$37.5 million) in cash proceeds, including £3.8 million (€4.2 million/$4.7 million) in deferred consideration.

Having successfully exited these businesses as planned, the company continues to develop a review of its vaccine strategy and the exit from its activities in companion animal products.

"I am very pleased to announce this transaction, the proceeds of which together with those from the sale of Improve International last week, are in line with our expectations," said CEO Trond Williksen. "These disposals represent a significant step forward in our strategy to become a streamlined, profitable business focused on our key areas of competency."

Benchmark reported a succesive drop in quarterly earnings last month as the shrimp sector in particular felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Earnings before interest, tax, demortization and amortization (EBITDA) from continuing operations fell 12 percent to £4.6 million (€5.1 million/$5.7 million), while revenues fell 15 percent to £32 million (€35.5 million/$39.4 million).

"Our results for the first half of the year were disappointing, reflecting the weakness in the shrimp markets and oversupply of artemia, and the additional challenges of Covid-19 in the latter part of the period," said Chairman Peter George.

"Our priority continues to be on completing the restructuring of the group to focus on our core aquaculture disciplines, reducing our cost base, increasing efficiency and transitioning from R&D investment into profitability. Longer term the fundamentals of our business are very attractive with an increasing need for products and solutions that enable sustainable food production."