DuPont Gains Majority Stake in South Africa Seed Company
U.S. chemical and seed company E.I. DuPont & Co. (NYSE: DD – $59.89) said it completed its three-year effort to buy an 80% stake in South Africa’s largest seed company, overcoming that country’s stiff opposition to foreign ownership with pledges to keep a rein on pricing and to aid small South African farmers. The deal by DuPont’s Pioneer Seed unit with privately held Pannar Seed Ltd, a 55-year-old seed company, should provide immediate financial gain to DuPont with new products expected to be on the market in August and September, according to a company spokesperson. DuPont sees Pannar’s seed operations, which extend across nine African countries, helping broaden its infrastructure across the continent. Both Pioneer and Pannar specialize in corn seed, and will focus on improving that product line. But the companies will also explore opportunities for combining strengths in crops that include sorghum, soybeans and wheat. As mentioned in my post of July 26, activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Management has apparently acquired an undisclosed stake in the company over the past quarter, with arguments for the company to spin-off its Performance Chemicals (titanium dioxide paint ingredient) business. Conservative, income-seeking investors should find DD attractive as a core holding. DuPont earns high marks for safety and financial strength and has a growing dividend that yields 3.1% at current levels.