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Agriculture

UPDATE 1- Pioneer Hi-Bred buying S. Africa seed company

* Pannar Seed operates in 9 countries

* Terms not disclosed

* Deal expected to close in 2011 (adds details)

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Sept 15 (Reuters) - Pioneer Hi-Bred, the agricultural unit of DuPont DD.N, said Wednesday it was buying a South African seed company in an effort to expand its reach into corn production through Africa.

Pioneer’s purchase of a majority stake in Pannar Seed Ltd, which operates seed businesses in nine countries in Africa, is the latest move in a race by many major agricultural companies to stake a claim in Africa.

Financial terms were not disclosed for the agreement, which is subject to review by the South African Competition Commission and other countries’ regulatory agencies.

Pending regulatory approvals, the deal is expected to close in early 2011, and Pioneer officials said Pannar management, employees, facilities and brands would be retained.

Pioneer President Paul Schickler said Pioneer would increase its investments in new products and services for farmers across Africa, and the deal will allow each business to access additional crop areas, reach more customers and deliver improved seed products.

Pioneer said it will tap into Pannar’s maize genetics developed specifically for the region while opening up its genetics and breeding expertise to Pannar.

Pioneer is part of DuPont’s agriculture and nutrition unit, which represented 31 percent of overall DuPont sales, or about $8.3 billion in 2009. (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by John Picinich)

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