Bayer CropScience, a unit of German conglomerate Bayer AG (BYR.L,BAYRY.PK,BAYZF.PK), said Tuesday it has agreed to buy the watermelon and melon seed business of Abbott & Cobb Inc., a privately-held seed company in Pennsylvania. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Bayer CropScience expects the acquisition to strengthen its vegetable business, which operates under the Nunhems brand. Following closing of the transaction that is expected within a few weeks, BayerCropScience anticipates that about 30 employees of Abbott & Cobb will join its vegetable seed business.
Bayer CropScience noted that Abbott & Cobb's watermelon business has a robust position in the U.S., with increasing business in Mexico, Australia and Asia. The company expects the acquisition will boost its presence in these markets.
Meanwhile, the melon business and the germplasm are expected to broaden its existing seed portfolio further and will form the basis for future new hybrids, Bayer CropScience said.
Abbott & Cobb will continue to operate with its remaining business, with crops such as sweet corn, pepper and squash.
Sandra Peterson, CEO of Bayer CropScience said, "The demand for healthy fruits and vegetables is increasing worldwide, and this segment is of crucial importance for Bayer CropScience. We plan to achieve sales of about EUR 3 billion with seeds, traits and crop protection solutions for fruits and vegetables by 2020."
Bayer CropScience reported annual sales of 7.26 billion euros in 2011. The unit operates in the areas of crop protection, non-agricultural pest control, seeds and traits.
For the most recent first quarter, Bayer CropScience sales rose 15.6 percent to 2.6 billion euros, with highest growth rates in North America. The segment's bottom line grew at a better rate than sales, helped by added benefits of efficiency improvements, successful cost management and positive currency effects.
On Frankfurt's Xetra, Bayer shares are currently trading at 50.75 euros, up 0.69 euros or 1.38 percent on a volume of 1.40 million shares.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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