Belfast-based agri-technology company Devenish Nutrition has secured EUR118 million (US$137 million) in long-term funding to enable its research, development and growth plans. This major refinancing deal is made possible by a pioneering investment of EUR40 million from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The EIB investment has been combined with commitments from Devenish’s new commercial finance partners, Ulster Bank and Danske Bank.
The EIB investment is the largest-ever support for agribusiness in Ireland by the EIB. It is also the first support for the agribusiness sector in the country under the Investment Plan for Europe, in which the European Commission and EIB are strategic partners.
The EIB loan will enable Devenish to develop a purpose-built Global Innovation Centre in Dowth, County Meath, from where it will develop and showcase its ‘One Health – from Soil to Society’ research, development and innovation program. It will also fund innovation related capital projects and research into optimized animal nutrition, food innovation, health and sustainability.
EY Ireland acted as corporate finance and tax advisers on the transaction.
Devenish has ambitious long-term growth plans; by 2021 it aims to increase turnover by over GBP100 million (US$128.8 million) to circa £315m and add more than 100 new jobs to its current 450-strong international employee base. The dual support from Ulster Bank and Danske Bank will fuel this growth.
Richard Kennedy, Group CEO of Devenish said: “This major financial boost marks a most significant milestone for Devenish as we seek to realize our vision of becoming the world’s leading provider of integrated animal, human and environmental health solutions.
“This funding will be invested in the business to build and grow our research and development and manufacturing capabilities as well as facilitate our mergers and acquisitions activity.
“We take great pride that EIB have the confidence to support not just the future of Devenish, but the future of the Irish agri-food sector overall.
“Equally, the support of both Ulster Bank and Danske Bank is crucial in enabling us to progress our future growth plans as we seek to develop Devenish’s presence in domestic and international markets and enhance our manufacturing capabilities worldwide.”
Andrew McDowell, vice president of the European Investment Bank added: “Agribusiness around the world faces increasing competitiveness as well as economic and political pressures. Devenish has been involved in animal nutrition for more than 60 years and their continuous investment in research and development of new products is crucial in addressing these pressures.
“This is a landmark deal for the EIB in Ireland and in the agri-business sector. The EIB loan will strengthen innovation activities in centers of excellence across the company and enable Devenish to thrive across the world, from its base in Europe.
“Development of new animal nutrition products and research into improving soil health, animal health, human health and environmental sustainability are crucial components for the success of agriculture and food production across the world. The European Investment Bank is pleased to support new investment that will strengthen the competitiveness of Devenish as a world-class Irish company through the €40 million loan signed today.
“This new loan demonstrates how the EIB is working directly with businesses here in Ireland and supporting transformational agri-business innovation under the Investment Plan for Europe.”
Managing Director of Commercial Banking Division, Ulster Bank, Eddie Cullen, added: “Ulster Bank is proud to support Devenish, which is at the cutting edge of animal nutrition and food science. When we first met the team, we knew it was important to listen and understand their specific needs, and to provide them with an innovative package of support to match the culture of their business.
“Our sectoral experts were able to tailor a bespoke finance package that allows the company to grow and supports their global expansion plans. We look forward to continuing to support Devenish in the future.”
Geoff Sharpe, head of corporate at Danske Bank said: “Devenish has seen significant national and international growth in recent years on the back of a strong focus on innovation, R&D and expansion into new markets. At Danske Bank we’re delighted to support them on this exciting next phase of their business growth journey, not only through providing finance, but by adding value through our technology and access to global networks.”
European Commissioner Phil Hogan, responsible for agriculture, added: “The Irish agri-business sector contributes enormously to the Irish economy and particularly to the rural economy. There are huge opportunities for companies like Devenish who have a vision for the future, but they are operating in a highly competitive environment, where investment, particularly in research and innovation, is essential to maintain a competitive edge.
“Today’s announcement by the EIB under the Investment Plan for Europe is very welcome, coming at a time of some uncertainty for the Irish agri-business sector. It is a strong statement of confidence in the resilience of the sector and its capacity to grow and reach its full potential.
“The EIB’s investment is an obvious statement of confidence in Devenish’s ambition, but it is also a very tangible vote of confidence in Irish agri-business and its potential to benefit from new and emerging global opportunities, particularly given the important emphasis that Devenish places on sustainability.”