According to a recently signed agreement, Swiss crop protection and seed giant Syngenta will pay $180 million for a 90% majority ownership position in each of the five member companies of Golden Harvest Seed Company. The announcement comes hot on the heels of Syngenta's acquisition of Garst Seed in early May. Taken together with its existing NK Seed business, the recent acquisitions could help Syngenta stay competitive with its number one and number two rivals in the seed business, Pioneer and Monsanto.

Syngenta, formed by the merger of Novartis and Zeneca Ag Products, already stands as the world's largest seller of crop protection products and the third largest seed company. Golden Harvest has a U.S. market share of 4% in corn and 3% in soybeans. Adding Golden Harvest raises Syngenta's current market share to approximately 15% in corn and 13% in soybeans.

While the Golden Harvest announcement surprised many in the industry, Syngenta had been dropping hints for more than a year about its intentions. As reported by FIN last September, Syngenta company officials meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, indicated that they were interested in acquiring other seed companies, citing a stronger financial position and a need to acquire a strong line of hybrids and varieties in southern, full-season U.S. markets.

Today, addressing the Golden Harvest agreement, Syngenta CEO Michael Pragnell stated, "This acquisition marks the completion of our strategy to develop critical mass in the U.S. corn and soybean seeds market, complementing our leading position in crop protection."