Monday 19 March 2018

Biomarine raises €4m from Killybegs fishermen ahead of production start

Killybegs fishing village
Killybegs fishing village

Fearghal O'Connor

A GROUP of Killybegs fishermen has raised a further €4m in the latest fundraising by protein powder maker Biomarine Ingredients Ireland (BII).

The company, which is about to start full production at its new €10m processing plant in Monaghan, has now raised more than €15m since setting up three years ago.

The new plant will produce a range of protein and calcium powders derived from fish caught by the local Donegal fleet and be aimed at food manufacturers and the functional ingredients market. The bulk of that money has come from fishermen represented by the Killybegs Fishermen's Organisation, who are BII's main shareholders. Its chief executive is former Bord Iascaigh Mhara boss Jason Whooley.

Norwegian company Biomarine Science Technology is also a minority shareholder but largely contributes through the provision of technology and expertise.

The company is planning to build a second €35m processing plant in Killybegs, Co Donegal, for which it has planning permission and which would be the biggest such facility in the world.

It said: "Through Goodbody Corporate Finance, we just had a funding round and all of the shareholders decided they wanted to be involved. We raised just over €4m over the last three months, bringing the total raised so far to €15m. The majority of that money has come from our shareholder pool."

BII is working with key dairy industry scientists and commercial experts and Whooley said it has discussed the possibility of formal partnerships with Irish dairy companies.

"We have identified significant opportunities, particularly in the Asia Pacific market and the global protein ingredients market is projected to be worth $39bn (€34bn) by 2020," said Whooley. But he added that the company had not raised money from Irish banks.

"There's lots of promotion to say the banks are backing Irish businesses but that certainly would not have been our experience.

"We were fortunate in that we didn't need it. We estimate that the Killybegs plant will cost €35m to develop."

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