Groupe Limagrain, the France-based euro 1.5-billion conglomerate focusing on seed cultivation, is understood to be in advanced stages of discussions to finalise an acquisition of about Rs 100 crore, after zeroing in on a couple of vegetable seeds companies.
If the deal materialises, it would be Groupe Limagrain’s second acquisition in India.
Investment bankers in the know said Groupe Limagrain planned to aggressively ramp up its presence in India through its second acquisition, expected to be completed soon. Groupe Limagrain officials declined to comment on the transaction.
Limagrain is an international agricultural cooperative group focusing on field and vegetable seeds and cereal products. The group has about 7,000 employees, including 1,400 researchers.
In 2009, Limagrain had formed a 51:49 per cent joint venture with Atash Seeds, a subsidiary of Avesthagen. Through this, Avesthagen licensed its field crop technologies to Groupe Limagrain for euro 10 million, to be paid in two tranches, with the European seeds major acquiring 51 per cent stake in Atash. Later, Limagrain acquired the entire stake in this venture. Limagrain was scheduled to develop and market genetically modified maize, wheat, barley, rice and sunflower globally, using Avesthagen’s technologies.
In addition to these operations, based in Hyderabad, Groupe Limagrain has a research centre in Bangalore and is understood to be planning a processing centre in the near future. Recently, Clause India, a subsidiary of Limagrain, had inaugurated a research and breeding station in Arjunabettahali, Bangalore. According to people in the know, the new unit would allow Clause to create innovative new varieties to meet the needs of Indian farmers. It would focus on research and development of vegetable crops, including tomato, hot pepper, ladies’ fingers, brinjal, watermelon and cucumber, and evaluate other vegetable hybrid crops for adaptation. The unit would have a phytopathology laboratory and a 30-acre farm (on a long-term lease from farmers) equipped with drip irrigation equipment.
In India, seeds cultivation is largely unorganised and fragmented, with few significant transactions, in terms of interest from private equity players and global strategic players buying majority stakes in Indian seeds companies.