Nufarm Ltd has strengthened and expanded its seed business by acquiring two US based sorghum companies. The acquisition of Texas based Richardson Seeds Ltd and MMR Genetics Ltd was completed this week for an undisclosed cost.

Richardson Seeds is a leading producer and marketer of sorghum seed hybrids, with a leading market share in the US and expanding market positions in Mexico, South America, Europe, Japan and the Middle East. The company was founded over 50 years ago and has processing capabilities of 10,000 bags of sorghum seeds per day.

MMR Genetics - previously 47% owned by Richardson Seeds - is a global leader in the development of elite sorghum germplasm, used by many of the world's top seed companies. The company conducts grain and forage sorghum research in various countries under the leadership of Dr Fred Miller, an industry stalwart considered to be the "father" of hybrid breeding in sorghum.

Combined sales of Richardson Seeds and MMR in 2008 totalled approximately USD22 million.

Sorghum is an increasingly important crop that is finding expanded use as an animal feed; for human consumption; and as a feedstock for the production of biofuels. It is grown on approximately 40 million hectares, predominantly in semi-arid regions of North and South America, Asia, Africa, India and Australia.

Nufarm's Managing Director, Doug Rathbone said the acquisitions represent high quality assets that will considerably strengthen Nufarm's existing seeds platform.

"Sorghum has been a target crop for our seeds business and the addition of Richardson Seeds and MMR brings expertise and geographic diversity in germplasm development and licensing; seed production; conditioning; and marketing and sales."

Nufarm's General Manager of Seeds, Brent Zacharias, said the additional scale and reach resulting from the acquisitions will deliver significant growth and will be complementary to the company's existing sorghum operations that were secured via last year's acquisition of Queensland based Lefroy seeds.

Mr Zacharias said it is particularly important to have secured the retention and ongoing contribution of the management and employees of Richardson Seeds, including company President, Larry Richardson and of MMR, including Dr Miller.

"The industry knowledge and relationships that have been built up within these businesses represent important value. I look forward to working with our new teams in Texas and elsewhere to capitalise on the synergies that will result from new opportunities in areas such as breeding, production, seed treatment, and cross marketing of our elite sunflower genetics in target markets."

Mr Richardson said Richardson Seeds and MMR Genetics customers will continue to receive the high level of service and attention that has always been the case, with Nufarm's ownership providing substantial scale up capability in both developing markets and breeding efforts.

Source: Nufarm Ltd