BASF, Bayer divide up products, services

It’s Christmas in August. At least it probably feels a little like Christmas morning for a pair of senior agricultural science executives as they open packages under their ever-greener BASF tree.

“It’s kind of like that,” said Garth Hodges, formerly of Bayer and now BASF.

“We are in the discovery period of the (merged) products…. I suspect (BASF) have some very exciting things in their (research) pipeline (and) their plant sciences,” he said about the divestiture of Bayer’s Invigor canola business, juncea and wheat breeding platforms. Bayer had to choose between these and the Monsanto canola lineup and wheat programs as those companies came together as one.

“Before this point, we really haven’t been allowed to see everything that each other has,” said Hodges, the new global head of canola for BASF and a former Canadian Bayer leader.

Johnathon Sweat of BASF leads the Canadian business and will partner with Hodges on the package unwrapping, and the decision-making about how to take advantage of the two lines of canola, BASF has Clearfield lines, the Bayer non-selective herbicides and seed treatments, seed breeding for canola quality juncea, wheat, including hybrids, xarvio precision agriculture tools and new shared research initiatives.

“This is a very interesting (merger). Typically, these things don’t happen without some overlap in the people and the work being done. This one is virtually zero,” said Sweat of the 400 new BASF Canada staff coming over from Bayer.

BASF’s Clearfield, imazamox/imazapyr tolerant canola seed, and the Ares herbicide that it is paired with, have to be removed from the BASF lineup in Canada and will be sold to another company, or group of businesses. These are currently held separately.

Clearfield forms a much smaller percentage of the canola business in Canada than Invigor, about five percent of the market, compared to 55 for Invigor and 40 for Monsanto. It is also considered a non-genetically modified product, making it attractive to some parts of the industry, such as lines of food products handled by Cargill.

All of these divestitures were the product of an order by the Canadian Competition Bureau after the Monsanto and Bayer merger.

Across the border in the American plains states, canola growers will for now still be growing BASF Clearfield canola.

“Of course, the rest of the Clearfield lineup of crops remains with BASF in Canada, these are an important part of business,” said Sweat.

Hodges said, along with the Invigor product, its roughly 12 million bags of seed sales annually in Canada and science lineup, comes the Saskatchewan research facilities in Saskatoon and Pike Lake, seed processing in Lethbridge, the chemical formulation/production operation in Regina, and about a dozen other seed research locations. Liberty, glufosinate-ammonium, herbicides and several seed treatments are also part of the deal.

The precision agriculture software platform xarvio is also included.

BASF now becomes the largest canola and pulse crop seed player in the nation and the second largest agricultural pesticide provider.

It is the largest acquisition in BASF’s history, at about 7.6 billion euros (C$11.4 billion).

Globally about 4,500 Bayer staff will move to BASF and it includes all of the glufosinate-ammonium genetics and products.

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