24 June 1998
FT profiles Agco chief

THE Financial Times profiles Robert Ratliff, the colourful chairman and chief executive of Agco, the US company which is one of the worlds big four makers of agricultural machinery.

Last week, Mr Ratliff announced his keenness to take over Claas, one of the last remaining German farm machinery manufacturers. He also threw a few punches at Caterpillar while making overtures to Claas. He said a joint venture making combine harvesters in the USA between Caterpillar and Claas was likely to fail.

Mr Ratliff has also hinted he might review Agcos policy of buying the biggest share of his companys diesel engines from Perkins, Caterpillars UK-based subsidiary. He could prefer rivals such as Cummins.

Mr Ratliff set up Agco in 1990. Deals have included the $329 million purchase of Massey Ferguson of Canada and the $260m takeover of Maxion, a Brazilian tractor maker.

Last year he persuaded the family owners of Fendt, Germanys biggest tractor maker, to sell the company to Agco for $283m.

Mr Ratliff says he is ready to spend another $600m on acquisitions in the next two years. He is running his slide rule over the Valtra tractor operations of Partek, the agricultural machinery of Renault, and Same Deutz-Fahr, the privately-owned Italian company.

  • Financial Times 24/06/98 page 28