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Brief: Crop Biologicals Firm Biobest Eyes South America Expansion With $570m Acquisition of Brazil’s Biotrop

Belgium’s Biobest, which develops biological-based crop protection and pollination products, is set to acquire Brazil-based Biotrop in a deal valued at $569.4 million. Biobest will acquire an 85% stake in Biotrop through the deal; it will buy the remaining 15% after a three-year transition period. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year. The deal is part of Biobest’s strategy to expand to South American markets as it aims to be a major biologicals provider offering biocontrol, biostimulants and other sustainable crop protection products.

Why it matters

Brazil is South America’s largest agtech market by far, commanding about half the region’s marketshare. The country’s market for biologicals is estimated at more than $1 billion with an annual growth rate of 43%, according to Biobest CEO Jean-Marc Vandoorne. Biotrop holds a leading position in this market. It follows, then, that Biobest would want to acquire it as the European firm looks to expand into South America.

Founded in 1987, Biobest now has a presence in markets all over the world and continues to expand. Most recently, the company acquired Biological Services as part of a broader expansion in Australia in 2021. In 2022, it acquired Portuguese startup Agronologica and this year completed the acquisition of BioWorks in North America.

Acquiring Biotrop provides Biobest with an automatic pathway into South America. “This transaction allows Biobest to take a major position in South America and to start its transformation journey from a horticulture biocontrol and pollination specialist to a major biologicals player in agriculture, covering biocontrol, inoculants, biostimulants and pollination in covered and in open-field crops,” noted Vandoorne.

Biotrop is currently controlled by private equity investor Aqua Capital and is also backed by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC. Biobest will fund the acquisition through a capital increase subscribed by existing shareholders, including Belgium-based SofinaTikehau CapitalM&G InvestmentsUnigrains and Sofiproteol.

“We are demonstrating here and now that it is possible to become an ag-major in crop protection and crop nutrition while being highly focused on biologicals,” said Vandoorne. “In a world that urgently needs to shift to more sustainable farming and to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides, this is an enviable position in which existing and new Biobest shareholders were eager to invest.”

Source: AFN