Pestax could fetch £10m-£50m in sale
Pestax has put itself up for sale. The small biotechnology company has a dozen patents that make broad claims over the genetic engineering of plants to kill or deter insect pests.
They cover several important families of insecticidal genes and methods of introducing them into crops. The sale will indicate the health of the agricultural biotechnology, or “agbio” sector.
The proceeds are likely to be in the £10m-£50m range. The portfolio could suit one of the agrochemical groups that are moving into bio-pesticides. Burrill & Company, the San Francisco merchant bank, is managing the sale.
The total area planted with crops genetically engineered to resist pests climbed from an estimated 1,214,100ha (3m acres) in 1996 to 4,047,000ha (10m acres) this year. They comprised mainly cotton in the US.
Large companies competing in the insecticidal crop market want to add other bio-pesticides to crops with bacillus thuringiensis genes to give multiple resistance to different types of insect.