27 March 2000
Aventis keeps options open

LIFE sciences company Aventis has not ruled out following competitors and selling off its agrochemicals business, says chairman Jurgen Dormann.

Rivals AstraZeneca, Novartis and American Home Products and have all made similar moves.

Mr Dormann told the FinancialTimesthat the argrochemical business will show a “significant margin increase and will be very value-creating in years to come.”

But he added: “If I look at our R&D budget I would say less than 10% of the joint group budget covers both topics of interest [pharmaceuticals and agriculture].

“This long term will not be sufficient to justify anything.”

Mr Dormann said he was trying to “keep all options open for the future”.

The company, formed 15 months ago from the merger of Hoechst of Germany and Frances Rhône-Poulenc, has slipped down the pecking order, reports the FT.

With pro forma 1999 pharmaceutical sales of Euro13.9 billion (8.5bn a todays rate), it probably just makes it into the top five.