GENET archive


Aventis dumps ag-biotech division

Dear friends,
So Aventis follows Novartis and dumps its ago-biotech division.
Of course, it doesn't make the problem go away but it does say something about how these TCNs are losing faith themselves in the future.
Think StarLink might have had something to do with it ....
Best wishes,
PARIS - Aventis SA said it has decided to spin off its agrochemicals business in order to focus on pharmaceuticals.
The Strasbourg-based company said its board approved the strategic retooling Tuesday, under which Aventis CropScience - to be renamed Agreva - will be spun off before the end of next year.
"Aventis will examine all possible value-creating options," including the possible listing of Aventis CropScience, the group said in a statement.
Aventis, the life-sciences group created last year by the $25 billion merger of Germany's Hoechst AG and France's Rhone-Poulenc SA, has opened talks with Germany's Schering AG, which has a 24% stake in the agrochemicals unit, and "thinks it can strike an accord in the near future," the group said.
"In realising this separation, Aventis should increase its strategic flexibility, its visibility, and enhance the focus on performance at both businesses," the group said.
Aventis (AVE) said the merger of the pharmaceutical operations of Rhone Poulenc and Hoechst has made great progress, with the business seeing steady growth and strong sales.
Aventis has long been mulling the possible demerger of the agrichemicals business, but as recently as two weeks ago said a decision was a year to 18 months away.
Aventis CropScience is the world's second-biggest company in its field, ranked behind Anglo-Swiss rival Syngenta, formed through the merger of the agrichemical businesses of Novartis and AstraZeneca (AZN).
Earlier this month, Aventis said third-quarter operating profit for its agrichemical operations fell 2.8% to 59 million euros ($50.6 million) on a 6.8% rise in revenue to 992 million euros.
A shadow has been cast over the business by the controversy over Starlink, a type of genetically modified corn to kill insect pests, which was launched in the U.S. three years ago and approved only for animal feed or industrial use.
But the discovery of tiny amounts of Starlink in taco shells led to recalls by food producers and disruptions in U.S. corn exports. That eventually resulted in the withdrawal of Starlink from the U.S. market, and a blitz led by Aventis to buy up the entire Starlink crop to avoid further potential contamination of corn approved for human consumption.
Aventis said earlier this month that the net financial impact of Starlink for Aventis would be significantly below $1 billion, and no third-quarter provisions were made for possible costs related to Starlink in its third-quarter accounts.
(Copyright (c) 2000, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.).
Gill Lacroix
Biotechnology Coordinator
Friends of the Earth Europe
T. 32-2-542.0182, F. 32-2-537.5596
"Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power.  We have guided missiles and misguided men".  (Martin Luther King, Jr.)