Executive Briefings

Interest in Consolidation Continues to Grow in Farm Supplies Market

Six companies dominate the business of farm supplies. The interest of Monsanto, the world's biggest seed producer, in buying Syngenta, the largest agrochemicals firm, had threatened to whittle them down to five. That raised worries about whether the reduction in competition would mean less innovation - and thus slower improvements in crop yields - as well as higher costs for farmers.

However, Syngenta played hard to get. It rebuffed a bid of $45bn in June. And another, made on August 18th, worth around $47bn. So, on August 26th, Monsanto walked away. But consolidation of the industry may be in prospect anyway. The takeover battle stimulated the interest of other big agricultural suppliers: BASF, another of the big six, had reportedly sought financing to make a rival offer for Syngenta. And Monsanto itself may not be done. Next year the firm may set its sights on another target.

Two decades ago the industry was far more fragmented. In 1994 the top four companies in the worldwide market for seeds and crop biotechnology had a combined share of 21 percent. By 2009 the top four’s share was 54 percent. Similarly, in agrochemicals, the top four's share rose from just over a quarter to more than half over that period. But the pressure for another round of consolidation remains.

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However, Syngenta played hard to get. It rebuffed a bid of $45bn in June. And another, made on August 18th, worth around $47bn. So, on August 26th, Monsanto walked away. But consolidation of the industry may be in prospect anyway. The takeover battle stimulated the interest of other big agricultural suppliers: BASF, another of the big six, had reportedly sought financing to make a rival offer for Syngenta. And Monsanto itself may not be done. Next year the firm may set its sights on another target.

Two decades ago the industry was far more fragmented. In 1994 the top four companies in the worldwide market for seeds and crop biotechnology had a combined share of 21 percent. By 2009 the top four’s share was 54 percent. Similarly, in agrochemicals, the top four's share rose from just over a quarter to more than half over that period. But the pressure for another round of consolidation remains.

Read Full Article