Monsanto completes purchase of Seminis

Related tags Monsanto Maize Genetically modified food

Monsanto yesterday completed its acquisition of leading seed
company Seminis, making it a wholly owned susidiary.

Monsanto paid $1 billion in cash and assumed about $400 million in debt to buy California based Seminis and will make a payment of up to $125 million by the end of fiscal 2007, based on financial targets.

Monsanto spokeswoman Lori Fisher said the total valuation of the deal has not changed, but due to the seasonal nature of the business and the timing of the closure, Monsanto will initially incur slightly higher working capital needs than first projected, which translates to a "slightly higher net debt level"​, according to Reuters.

Poland said on Tuesday it wanted to ban the import and planting of 17 varieties of genetically modified maize seed made by Monsanto In January, Hungary outlawed the planting of Monsanto maize seeds.

However, when Monsanto announced it was acquiring Seminis in Janaury, the company denied it had any immediate plans to genetically modify its seeds.

Fisher told that the decision was taken to purchase the company because of its position as a market leader, its suitability to benefit from Monsanto's breeding research and development, and the fact Seminis will immediately add value to Monsanto's profile.

She added that any plans to genetically modify the seed would be for the future.

"There could be a future potential for biottech, but this is not the reason why we bought Seminis,"​ said Fisher.

In the near term, she explained, they will be looking at using Monsanto's advanced "non-biotech" breeding techniques - that have been applied mainly to bulk crops such as soy and corn - to help Seminis improve yields in certain crops. This should also reduce the time it takes to bring a new product to market.

Until now Monsanto has focussed on large-scale crops such as oilseed rape and corn and has had no profile in the vegetable seed market. This will be rectified by the purchase of Seminis.

Moreover, this acquision will give Monsanto a further foot in the door in Europe and the Middle East, which account for a heavy percentage of Seminis' sales, and to a lesser degree in Asia.

Seminis supplies more than 3500 seed varieties at present and Fischer said Monsanto had no plans to interfere with this range.

"Seminis are the leaders and we will let them run that business,"​ said Fisher.

This purchase may have pushed Monsanto into number one place in the vegetable seed charts, but it will no doubt keep its eye on the ball to see what else is out there. Fisher said that they currently see opportunities for buying smaller US companies operating in the corn market.

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