BASF is complementing its crop-protection business by acquiring seed and other assets from Bayer for $6.97 billion as a wave of rapid consolidation continues in the agribusiness sector.
The acquisition is the largest ever for BASF, the world’s third-largest maker of crop chemicals which, as Reuters reports, had “avoided seed assets and instead pursued research into plant characteristics such as drought tolerance, which it sells or licenses out to seed developers.”
“Bayer’s $66 billion deal to buy U.S. seeds group Monsanto, announced in September 2016, has created opportunities for rivals to snatch up assets that need to be sold to satisfy competition authorities,” Reuters added.
Bayer is hoping the divestment will smooth the way for European authorities to approve the Monsanto deal early next year.
“We are taking an active approach to address potential regulatory concerns, with the goal of facilitating a successful close of the Monsanto transaction,” Werner Baumann, chairman of Bayer board, said in an news release.
The assets to be sold include Bayer’s global glufosinate-ammonium business and the related LibertyLink technology for herbicide tolerance, essentially all of the company’s field crop seeds businesses, as well as respective research and development capabilities.
More than 1,800 commercial, R&D, breeding, and production personnel, most of whom are located in the U.S., Germany, Brazil, Canada, and Belgium, will transfer from Bayer to BASF.
“With this investment, we are seizing the opportunity to acquire highly attractive assets in key row crops and markets,” BASF Chairman Kurt Bock said. “It will be a strategic complement to BASF’s well-established and successful crop protection business as well as to our own activities in biotechnology.”
“The acquisition will further enhance our agricultural solutions offer, which is a core pillar of BASF’s portfolio,” he added.
In other recent agribusiness M&A activity, European authorities in March conditionally approved a plan to merge Dow Chemical and DuPont and then split the combined company into three. The acquisition of Syngenta by China National Chemical Corp. has been approved on the condition that ChemChina sell significant portions of its European pesticide and plant-growth business.