11 December 1998

Merger means a new chemical giant on way

A NEW agrochemical giant, Aventis CropScience, will appear next year after the recent merger between Hoechst and Rhône Poulenc.

The deal, which ends weeks of speculation, involves the companies pharmaceutical and agricultural businesses. The latter, Aventis Agriculture, will generate annual sales of about £3.4bn.

This arm will be split into three. By far the biggest is Aventis CropScience, resulting from the joining of Hoechst Schering AgrEvo and Rhône Poulenc-Agro. It is expected to take a 15% share of the global crop protection market (21% in Europe), worth about £2.7bn. It will include crop protection, environmental health, biotechnology and seed.

The other two areas are animal nutrition, owned by RP, and animal health, controlled by Merial, a 50/50 joint venture between RP and Merck.

Savings resulting from the merger of the agricultural businesses are put at about £280m over three years. Aventis CropScience will spend about £240m a year on research and development.

The deal is subject to approval by competition authorities, and the new company is expected to be launched in mid-1999. &#42