EU crop chem firm takes stake in Engage Agro

A Belgian crop protection firm may bring some of its products to Canada’s vegetable, vine and corn markets as it moves to take a minority stake in Canadian crop chemical distributor Engage Agro.

Belchim Crop Protection announced last week it will take a “significant” but undisclosed minority stake in Guelph-based Engage Agro for an undisclosed sum, in a deal expected to close next month.

Engage Agro, operating since 1995, is best known in Canada for its work within the minor use registration system, developing, registering, selling and servicing products for markets such as horticulture, ornamentals, turf crops and row crops, “vegetation management” and other specialties.

Belchim CEO Dirk Putteman, in a release, described the deal as “a great opportunity to expand and leverage Belchim’s unique, customer-focused skills and to gain access for our (specialty) ag chem portfolio in the overseas markets.”

Putteman also noted “the potential synergies and the like-minded approach (Engage Agro CEO Ray) Chyc and I have for focusing on and meeting our customers’ needs.”

Belchim’s portfolio includes a “wide range” of crop protection products marketed in the 28 European Union member states, specializing in “important” EU crops such as potatoes, vines, vegetables and corn, the company said.

Once the deal closes, Engage Agro plans to work with Belchim to see which of its products could provide value to Canadian growers, look at the regulatory requirements for such products, then “press forward with development where it makes sense,” Chyc said via email.

Engage Agro’s budgets around development and registrations, he said, “are not cast in stone every year as they might be with a big publicly traded company. If it makes sense across the board for a product, we will press ahead.”

Engage Agro, in the meantime, said it plans to continue “business as usual” out of its Guelph office.

Belchim’s new overseas investment comes after the family-owned operation, which Putteman started in Belgium in 1987, bought back a 20 per cent ownership stake previously held by ag chem firm FMC Chemicals.

The buyback deal, announced in late 2014 and completed last September, was a mutual agreement following FMC’s acquisition of crop chemical firm Cheminova earlier last year.

Belchim is now 75 per cent owned by Putteman’s holding company Belchim Management; the remaining 25 per cent is owned by the EU arm of U.S. crop chem firm ISK Biosciences. — AGCanada.com Network

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