Landmark deal secures €118m of investment for agri tech company Devenish Nutrition

Devenish Group chief executive Richard Kennedy (left) with Andrew McDowell (vice-president of the European Investment Bank) and Owen Brennan (chairman of Devenish)
Gary McDonald Business Editor

BELFAST agri technology company Devenish Nutrition has secured €118 million (just over £105m) in long-term funding to enable its research, development and growth plans - including building a global innovation centre in the Republic in what seems a nod towards Brexit-proofing the business.

The mammoth refinancing deal combines a pioneering cocktail of investment including the largest ever European Investment Bank support for agri-business in Ireland (some €40m) along with further commitments from Devenish's new commercial finance partners, Ulster Bank and Danske Bank.

The EIB loan will enable the agri-food technology giant to develop a purpose-built innovation hub at Dowth in County Meath, from where Devenish will develop and showcase its ‘One Health – from Soil to Society' research, development and innovation programme.

And it is also the first support for the agri-business sector in Ireland under the so-called 'Juncker Plan', which is one of the EU's key actions to boost investment in Europe.

Devenish - which has grown from a Northern Ireland trading company to an international leader in animal nutrition, human health and environmental sustainability - has ambitious long-term growth plans between now and 2021, which include increasing turnover by over £100m to £315m and adding 100 new jobs to its current 450-strong employee base.

Established more than 60 years ago, Devenish has manufacturing sites across Ireland, Britain, the USA, Turkey and Uganda, as well as offices in UAE, Uganda, Mexico, Philippines, Dominican Republic and India.

Its group chief executive Richard Kennedy said: “This major financial boost marks a most significant milestone for Devenish as we seek to realise 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 & 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,” he said.

Andrew McDowell, vice-president of the European Investment Bank, added: “Agri-business around the world faces increasing competitiveness as well as economic and political pressures. Devenish's 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 loan will strengthen innovation activities in centres of excellence across the company and enable Devenish to thrive across the world from a base in Europe.”

EY Ireland acted as corporate finance and tax advisers on the transaction.

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