12/09/2016 - 15:31

Govt buys Monsanto stake in WA grain breeder

12/09/2016 - 15:31

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Six years after buying into Bibra Lake-based InterGrain, agricultural biotech company Monsanto has decided to sell its 26 per cent stake in the government-backed grain breeding company.

Govt buys Monsanto stake in WA grain breeder

Six years after buying into Bibra Lake-based InterGrain, agricultural biotech company Monsanto has decided to sell its 26 per cent stake in the government-backed grain breeding company.

The two remaining shareholders in InterGrain - the Western Australian government and the Canberra-based Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) - plan to buy Monsanto’s stake for an undisclosed sum.

The deal will lift the WA government’s stake from 48.7 per cent to 61.7 per cent, while the GRDC (which is funded by grower levies and federal government contributions) will lift its stake to 38.3 per cent.

Monsanto said the sale was part of an ongoing review of strategic business opportunities.

InterGrain was established in 2007 when the wheat breeding activities of WA’s Department of Agriculture and Food were transferred into a company structure.

Monsanto acquired a 19.9 per cent stake in 2010 for an undisclosed sum and paid $4.5 million when it lifted its stake to 26 per cent in 2013.

As well as being a shareholder, Monsanto provided InterGrain’s wheat breeding program with access to its technology, to help InterGrain deliver improved varieties to local growers.

InterGrain understands commercial reasons behind Monsanto’s decision,” chairman David Falconer said in a statement.

“Over the past six years, InterGrain has had the opportunity to capitalise on Monsanto technologies such as the wheat chipper and high-throughput molecular market platform.

“The benefits of these technologies are embedded in the Intergrain germplasm pipeline and in time will be realised through commercial products”.

InterGrain said the exit was being undertaken in a planned and amicable manner, allowing it to complete planned research activities for 2016.

The statement said InterGrain’s board and management were working closely with the remaining shareholders to assess new opportunities for the wheat and barley breeding programs.

Agriculture Minister Dean Nalder said the government’s increased investment showed its support for the grains industry.

InterGrain has a key role to play in the development of new wheat and barley varieties that can increase industry profitability, so the government and GRDC have taken on Monsanto’s 26 per cent equity stake in the company,” he said.

The minister said the WA government remained committed to supporting the growth of the state’s valuable grains industry to capture a greater share of rising global demand for food.

“With Australia’s relatively high cost of production, genetic improvement in grain varieties is vital to maintain and increase the industry’s international competitiveness,” Mr Nalder said.

InterGrain currently manages 29 commercial wheat varieties and 11 barley varieties.

Monsanto said its focused investment on new technology platforms – such as new herbicide tolerant canola traits, soil microbials and data science - would continue to add value to Australian grain growers.

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