FMC Corp. agreed to acquire Danish fungicide-ingredient maker Cheminova for $1.8 billion as Chief Executive Officer Pierre Brondeau builds up the agrochemicals division ahead of a planned break up.

The acquisition, to be completed in early 2015, will be financed through a mixture of debt and existing cash, Philadelphia-based FMC said today. It will add to adjusted earnings in the first full year of ownership.

FMC said it now intends to sell its alkali chemicals division to help contain debt in a tweak to Brondeau’s earlier plan to combine the asset with mineral operations to form a separate listed company. Brondeau is focusing FMC on fungicides and insecticides as well as food ingredients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, where demand is less vulnerable to the economic swings that can impact commodities.

“Cheminova is a company that we have long considered to be an attractive potential partner,” the FMC chief said.

The Danish insecticide supplier will enlarge FMC’s customer base in Europe and broaden its offering in crops to include cereals. It will have the opportunity to expand Cheminova’s sites throughout Europe, while gaining production savings by bringing the two businesses together, Cheminova Chief Financial Officer Rene Schneider said by phone.

FMC stock gained 0.6 percent to $66.01 a share.

The Cheminova deal follows Platform Specialty Products Corp.’s purchase of Chemtura Corp.’s agrochemicals business for about $1 billion earlier this year, in a further sign that makers of active ingredients and crop protection are being snapped up. FMC is paying about 11.7 times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization in the past 12 month period, Schneider said.

Platform, a chemical company co-founded by Nicolas Berggruen and backed by hedge fund manager Bill Ackman, paid about 10 times for Chemtura AgroSolutions.

“Throughout, the sale process has been very competitive, with a lot of interest,” Schneider said. With FMC, “the strategies match, with similar ambitions in research and development, and a good complementary in geography.”

Cheminova competes with Syngenta AG, Dow Chemical Co. and BASF SE as well as Nufarm Ltd. and Adama Agricultural Solutions Ltd.

In a further modification to FMC’s plan, lithium will be retained as a separate business.

Alkali Chemicals is “highly profitable and cash generative” and will attract “many interested buyers,” Brondeau said in a statement. FMC is looking to complete the disposal by mid-2015.

Goldman Sachs acted as financial adviser to FMC and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz acted as legal counsel. Citigroup provided additional financial advice and committed debt facilities.

JP Morgan advised Cheminova’s holding company Auriga Industries A/S, which gained 1.2 percent to 308.5 kroner in Copenhagen as of 3:34 p.m. After redistributing the proceeds of the sale to shareholders, Auriga will be dissolved CFO Schneider said.

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