US agribusiness giant buys stake in SA crop protection firm

November 2, 2015


US agribusiness giant Land O’Lakes has acquired a 52.5% stake in SA’s Villa Crop Protection in a deal that paves the way for expansion into Africa.

Land O’Lakes CEO Chris Policinski said the deal reflects the cooperative’s accelerated growth in its international business.

“We believe Africa is going to be, at some point in the relatively near future, everybody’s great growth market,” Policinski said.

There’s an emerging middle class and developing economies on the continent, according to Policinski.

“South Africa is the most developed of all the countries in terms of agricultural infrastructure, and a good place to start,” he said.

Villa Crop Protection markets crop input products that encompasses fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, plant growth regulators and fertilisers.

Villa Crop Protection group managing director Andre Schreuder told Fin24 that there would be no adverse employee impacts for either organisation.

“There will be no structural changes to the workforce,” he said.

According to Schreuder the terms of the agreement were not being disclosed.

“The data is clear: Agriculture and production are critically important to South Africa,” Schreuder said.

He was positive that the deal would enhance the group’s capabilities, build on distinctive and complementary product offerings and bring new technologies.

International insights and Land O’Lakes’ years of value-added agricultural knowledge would help meet local growers’ needs today and into the future, Schreuder said.

In 2014 Land O’Lakes had annual sales of $15bn, and was one of the US’ largest cooperatives, ranking 203 on the Fortune 500. Source: Fin 24