2017 Agribusiness M&A Year in Review
2017 was a banner year for mergers & acquisitions in agriculture. These transactions have fundamentally reshaped the landscape of the industry and brought into question the relative competitiveness in seed and crop protection products. Further shaping the industry is the continuous inflows of money from investors who are bullish on the continued growth in food and agriculture. The following is a listing of key agribusiness transactions from 2017, sorted by size.
M&A: Greater than US$10 bil
- Bayer & Monsanto
Bayer is expected to close a $66 billion all-cash offer to acquire Monsanto in the first half of 2018. Because of regulatory concerns, Bayer agreed to sell select seed assets, the Liberty Link trait, and Liberty herbicide business to BASF for $7 billion. Bayer is also likely to be required to sell a portion of its vegetable seed business. The two companies would control approximately 37% of U.S. seed market after the merger.
- Dow & DuPont
Dow and DuPont completed their all-stock merger in September 2017. The combined business, DowDuPont, has a combined market cap of $130 billion. The company will separate into three publicly traded companies – agriculture, specialty products and materials – within the next 18-months. Stemming from the concerns of U.S. and foreign regulators, DuPont had to divest parts of its crop-protection portfolio to FMC Corp and Dow had to sell a select portion of its corn seed business to CITIC Agri Fund.
- ChemChina & Syngenta
ChemChina completed their $43 billion all-cash acquisition of Syngenta in May 2017. Syngenta became a privately held company and was delisted from the NYSE and Swiss exchange upon completion of the deal, although there are plans to relist the company within the next five years.
- Potash Corporation & Agrium
Potash Corporation and Agrium completed a $36 billion merger on January 1, 2018. Operating under the new name Nutrien, it will be a top producer of potash and nitrogen fertilizer worldwide, while also operating over 1,500 farm retail locations.
M&A: Between US$1 bil and US$10 bil
- BASF & Bayer
Pending regulatory approval of the Bayer and Monsanto deal, BASF has agreed to buy select seed assets, including canola, cotton and soybean seed, the Liberty Link trait, and the Liberty herbicide business and related R&D activities and intellectual property from Bayer for $7 billion.
- Netafim & Mexichem
In August 2017, Mexichem, a Mexican Stock Exchange listed leader in plastic piping, chemicals, and petrochemicals, announced the 80% acquisition of Netafim for $1.9 billion. Netafim is an Israel-based leader in drip irrigation technology and equipment. Mexichem agreed to acquire the 80% stake of Netafim from financial investors, Permira and Kibbutz Hatzerim.
- FMC & DuPont
Complying with the demands of the European Commission, DuPont was forced to divest part of its Crop Protection business. FMC acquired DuPont’s Crop Protection business in a transaction that included $1.2 billion of cash plus FMC’s Health and Nutrition business in an asset swap.
- Linamar & MacDon
Linamar completed a $1.2 billion deal in December 2017 to acquire MacDon and its Group of Companies. According to Linamar, MacDon will be combined with Linamar’s existing agriculture harvesting equipment business in Hungary to position both businesses for significant growth.
- CITIC Agri Fund & Dow
On December 1, 2017, DowDuPont announced the closing of a deal that sold a portion of Dow AgroSciences’ corn seed business in Brazil to CITIC Agri Fund for $1.1 billion. The deal was required by regulators to satisfy antitrust concerns stemming from the DowDuPont merger.
- Syngenta & COFCO
COFCO agreed to sell its Nidera Seeds business to Syngenta in a deal in which financial terms were not disclosed. Losses incurred by Nidera, and accounting troubles uncovered last year appeared to be COFCO’s leading motivation to divest this business. This acquisition underpins Syngenta’s desire to become a “strong #3” in seed.
M&A: Less than US$1 bil
- Nufarm & Adama (Syngenta)
In October 2017 Nufarm, an Australian-listed agricultural company, agreed to acquire the rights to a suite of European crop protection products from ChemChina subsidiary, Adama and Swiss seed company, Syngenta, in order to appease European Union regulatory authorities reviewing the ChemChina acquisition of Syngenta. Nufarm paid $540 million for the portfolio covering 50 crop protection product lines.
- John Deere & Blue River Technology
Deere & Company reached a $305 million agreement to acquire Blue River Technology in September 2017. John Deere plans to have the 60-person Blue River firm remain in Sunnyvale, CA with the objective of continuing its rapid growth and innovation.
- DuPont & Granular
Through their continued effort to lead and shape the agtech market, DuPont reached a $300 million agreement to acquire Granular in August 2017. Granular’s CEO Sid Gorham will continue to lead Granular and will lead Digital Agriculture for DuPont.
- AGCO & Monsanto
After the U.S. Department of Justice effectively blocked the planned acquisition by John Deere, AGCO reached an agreement with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto, to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business for approximately $200 million. This acquisition will increase AGCO’s footprint in planting technology and strengthen their position as a full line partner for farmers across the globe.
- Mitsui & Co. & Monsanto
In February 2017 Mitsui & Co. completed their $87 million purchase of Monsanto’s Latitude fungicidal seed treatment business. The cash agreement for the business was $140 million, but after working capital adjustments resulted in an effective purchase prices of $87 million. Mitsui looks to increase Latitude’s annual revenue of $86.5 million by 20-30% in the coming years. This deal demonstrates Mitsui’s interest in picking up non-core operations being divested amid the current wave of consolidation.
- Sumitomo Chemical & Botanical Resources Australia
In a November 2017 deal valued at $133 million, Sumitomo Chemical purchased 82.9% of Botanical Resources Australia’s shares, making them a consolidated subsidiary. Sumitomo Chemical has been engaging in the production and sale of the Pyrethrum and intends to use Botanical Resources expertise to improve their business.
- Itafos & Agrium
In November 2017, Agrium agreed to sell its Idaho Phosphate Plant to Itafos for $100 million to address concerns from U.S. regulators regarding their merger with Potash Corporation. Additionally, Agrium agreed to sell its North Bend, Ohio nitric acid plant to a subsidiary of Trammo for a price that was not disclosed. The sale of these U.S. plants proved to be the final pieces to the Potash Corp. and Agrium deal being completed.
Fund Raising: Greater than US$100 mil
- Ginkgo Bioworks
One year after raising $154 million, Ginkgo Bioworks secured a $275 million Series D funding round in December 2017, placing Ginkgo’s valuation at over $1 billion. This funding will be used for continued growth and allow Ginkgo to branch out to more markets in the coming year.
- Indigo Agriculture
Indigo Agriculture announced the closing of its $203 million Series D funding round in early December 2017. This round of funding will support Indigo’s global commercial expansion, along with its continued investment in the plant microbiome and development of software and data tools.
Led by Japan’s SoftBank Vision Fund, indoor vertical farming company Plenty raised $200 million in a Series B funding round. Plenty currently has only two farms in operation, this round will be used to support the global rollout of Plenty’s vertical indoor farms.
Several Shenzhen-based RMB funds invested $150 million in a Series A round in Maihuolang. This February 2017 funding round will assist Maihuolang as they are the latest start-up trying to grab market share in the emerging Chinese rural e-commerce sector.
In November 2017, Uptake announced that they raised $117 million in a Series D funding round. Uptake will use this funding round to expand their data analytics offering into new industries.
- Farmers Business Network
In November 2017, Farmers Business Network announced a $110 million Series D funding round. This funding round will allow FBN to increase its international footprint to Canada while expanding digital crop marketing and farm analytics services.