Moline, Illinois-based Deere & Company (NYSE: DE – $82.48) has agreed to sell a majority interest in its landscapes business to a private equity firm. As a result of the transaction, Deere will receive about $300 million in cash and will initially retain a 40% equity interest in the business. “This partial sale allows Deere an opportunity to remain as part of a successful landscapes distribution business,” said James Field, president of Deere’s Worldwide Agriculture & Turf Division. “At the same time, Deere will continue to increase its own strategic focus on the global growth businesses in agriculture and construction and the complementary businesses in turf and forestry.” Deere formed the landscapes business in 2001 when it purchased and merged two companies that sold wholesale landscape supplies and irrigation products. Two other acquisitions were later added and now John Deere Landscapes, with 2,000 employees and $1 billion in annual revenue, is one of the largest U.S. wholesale suppliers of turf and ornamental agronomics, irrigation products, outdoor lighting, nursery and landscape materials. Shares of Deere have significantly lagged the market over the past few years, but long-term prospects appear positive and positions maintained by patient conservative investors should ultimately be rewarded with above average total returns through late decade.