Agribusiness firm Syngenta merging two divisions after strong year

Staff writerFebruary 9, 2011 

Agribusiness giant Syngenta is merging its seeds and crop protection divisions to boost sales and reduce costs.

The Swiss company, which has a major presence in the Triangle and in Greensboro, announced its reorganization plan today in conjunction with its release of full year 2010 results that exceeded analysts' expectations.

Syngenta Biotechnology, the company's biotech research arm, is headquartered in Research Triangle Park, where it has about 400 workers. The company also has about 600 workers in Greensboro, which serves as headquarters for its North American crop protection business. The crop protection division makes fungicides, herbicides and insecticides.

Company officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment on how merging the two divisions will affect the RTP and Greensboro operations.

Syngenta expects to eventually realize $650 million in annual savings by combining the seeds and crop protection businesses, including $500 million from more efficient procurement.

The goal is to grab market share from competitors such as DuPont, Dow Chemical, Monsanto, BASF and Bayer CropScience. The company expects the merger of the two divisions to be completed by the end of 2012.

"We've been taking market share consistently for six years," CEO Michael Mack told Bloomberg News. "We're the only one that has the diversity of assets for this strategy."

The company paved the way for the reorganization by testing out the alignment of the seeds and crop protection businesses in countries such as Italy and Brazil, a move that was deemed a success.

Syngenta reported sales for all of 2010 of $11.64 billion, up 6 percent for the year. After adjusting for currency fluctuations, sales rose 4 percent.

Net income for the year totaled $1.40 billion, down 1 percent.

The company's crop protection business in North America fell 7 percent for the year to $2.57 billion. Fourth-quarter sales rose 6 percent.

Syngenta's North American seeds business rose 4 percent for the year to $1.23 billion. Sales in the fourth quarter rose 34 percent.

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