13 December 1996

CPB buys AFs seed activities

PLANT breeder CPB Twyford is buying the seed processing and sales activities of farmer-owned AF, giving it a retail presence for the first time since it was sold by Bibbys two years ago.

The deal is expected to be completed next month, after due diligence checks.

CPBT had been looking to expand for some time, said managing director Ray Spreadbury. But lack of opportunities in the seed breeding market had encouraged it to look at downstream investment.

"We also took the view that some of our varieties, for example Commanche oilseed rape and Equinox wheat, could have been better marketed in the north."

CPBT, which itself was bought earlier this year by a consortium of French and German interests, already has some processing capacity, and will be acquiring additional plants at Hexham in North-umberland, Wellingore in Lincs and Craven Arms in Shropshire, giving it up to 20,000t extra throughput.

Mr Spreadbury said AF would continue to operate as a stand-alone business, and would not get preferential treatment compared with CPBTs other customers.

The sell-off is a continuation of AFs policy of quitting the arable sector, to concentrate on its core animal feed business, said managing director, Frank Blake. Grain trading is expected to be the next to go.

But AF will retain its fertiliser business, and will continue selling herbage and cereal seed to livestock farmers in the west of the country, procured from CPBT. &#42