September 21, 2012 / 5:55 AM / 6 years ago

Syngenta pays hefty premium to snap up Devgen

ZURICH (Reuters) - Syngenta SYNN.VX, the world’s largest agribusiness company, said on Friday it would buy Belgian hybrid seed firm Devgen DEVG.BR for 403 million euros ($522 million), as the Swiss company strengthens its foothold in rice-growing.

Syngenta is offering 16 euros per share for Devgen, a 70 percent premium over the 9.43 euros at which Devgen shares traded at Thursday’s close and their 10.18 euro peak this year.

The Swiss group will also buy all outstanding Devgen warrants.

“It’s a very important expansion of our rice strategy, one of our eight key crops,” said Syngenta spokeswoman Jennifer Gough. “We are also buying their competence in RNAi technology which will be relevant for us across a broad range of crops.”

RNA interference, or RNAi is a naturally occurring mechanism used for the regulation of specific genes.

In May the two companies signed a crop protection research deal, with Syngenta paying an upfront 22 million euros plus 4.8 million euros a year during the partnership, boosting Devgen’s resources for future seed development.

Syngenta said the bid has been recommended by the Devgen board and is supported by several major shareholders holding around 48 percent of the company’s shares.

This is Syngenta’s second deal announced within a week. On Wednesday the Swiss group said it would buy U.S. biotech company Pasteuria Bioscience Inc in a deal worth $86 million.

($1 = 0.7721 euros)

Reporting by Martin de Sa'Pinto, Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford

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