Clearwater advises chemicals developer on cross-border sale

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Clearwater Corporate Finance has advised on the sale of Dublin-based crop protection chemicals developer, AgriGuard Limited (“AgriGuard”), to agricultural chemicals manufacturer and marketer, Mitsui Agriscience International (“MASI”) – the Belgian-based subsidiary of Mitsui & Co Limited (“Mitsui”), headquartered in Japan.

The transaction represents Clearwater’s eighth chemicals sector deal since January 2008, all of which have involved an overseas vendor or acquirer.

AgriGuard has been successful in developing and registering a portfolio of post-patent products focused in the arable crop sector which is targeted as a key growth area in MASI’s long-term European expansion strategy. In addition, Agriguard’s understanding of the registration process for crop chemicals in the European Union (EU) makes it a particularly attractive target for MASI.

The acquisition will include AgriGuard’s full product range – which includes herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and plant growth regulators – with their associated intellectual property, as well as the transfer of staff.

The acquisition will contribute to the growth of MASI’s agrochemical distribution interests in Europe. These currently include Certis Europe, which has direct sales in the UK, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Italy, and Spiess Urania in Germany, which also operates in Poland and Hungary. AgriGuard, whose main business is in the UK and Ireland, will trade alongside Certis Europe’s UK business.

Partner, Philip Nuttall, led the deal team for Clearwater, supported by senior chemicals analyst, Constantine Biller, and director, Jon Mercer. Clearwater undertook an international search and selection process, identifying MASI as the most appropriate buyer for AgriGuard based on its long term goals in Europe and its existing portfolio of products.

Philip Nuttall said: “Taking into account MASI’s highly ambitious growth targets for its crop chemicals companies in Europe, and AgriGuard’s strong product portfolio and development capabilities, this strategic acquisition is a good fit for both parties, and represents the realisation of value for our client. MASI can now boost its business on the continent by marketing AgriGuard’s crop protection chemicals through its existing European distribution channels.”

Constantine Biller added: “Multinational chemicals companies, primarily based in Asia and North America, are increasingly looking to Europe for growth, consolidating the global market. This deal follows the pattern, with MASI looking to improve its European crop chemicals offering via the acquisition of a business with proven knowledge of EU regulations and legislation.

“Multinational chemicals groups are increasingly looking for M&A advice from sector specialists, regardless of either party’s location . Our strong track record in chemicals transactions, particularly cross-border deals, is testament to this trend.”

Brian Parker, former owner of AgriGuard, commented: “Clearwater advised me throughout the process for AgriGuard. They were pivotal to the deal from the start to its completion and supported me with very senior people at each stage throughout the negotiations. I would recommend any business to use a sector specialist when selling their business. I found Clearwater’s Chemicals sector team understood the market dynamics and the value drivers which enhanced shareholder value for me.”