BASF has agreed to acquire Bayer’s European oilseed rape business and its portfolio of glufosinate non-selective herbicide chemistry and glufosinate-resistant crop varieties among a wider package of traits and row crops.

The move comes ahead of Bayer’s proposed acquisition of Monsanto, which is still under consideration by competition regulators, and is now expected to close in early 2018.

Monsanto is a major player in non-selective herbicides with its glyphosate active, and a significant oilseed rape breeder through the DeKalb business.

BASF is the only multinational agrochemical manufacturer without a significant seeds operation – Monsanto, Syngenta and Dow all moved into traits from the late 1990s as the developing genetic technology offered an alternative to topical pesticide treatments to seeds modified to resist pests and non-selective herbicides.

BASF has agreed to pay €5.9 billion for the portfolio, subject to certain adjustments at completion and that the Bayer/ Monsanto deal reaches a successful conclusion. The assets to be sold contributed €385 million to Bayer’s earnings and €1.3 billion to its revenues in full year 2016. BASF’s Crop Protection division had sales of €5.6bn in 2016.

The assets to be acquired by BASF include Bayer’s oilseed rape varieties mainly sold in European markets, cotton in the Americas and Europe and soyabeans in the Americas; the global glufosinate-ammonium non-selective herbicide business, which is marketed under the Liberty, Basta and Finale brands; key row crop seed businesses in certain markets; and oilseed rape hybrids in North America under the InVigor brand that use the LibertyLink trait technology.

BASF also gains Bayer’s trait research and plant breeding programmes for these crops in the Americas and Europe plus the LibertyLink trait and trademark, in addition to manufacturing sites for glufosinate-ammonium production and formulation in Germany, the US and Canada. The change of ownership will involve 1,800 employees across commercial, R&D, breeding and production functions transferring from Bayer to BASF, primarily in the US, Germany, Brazil, Canada and Belgium.

“With this investment, we are seizing the opportunity to acquire highly attractive assets in key row crops and markets. It will be a strategic complement to BASF’s well-established and successful crop protection business as well as to our own activities in biotechnology,” says BASF chairman Dr Kurt Bock. “The acquisition will further enhance our agricultural solutions offer, which is a core pillar of BASF’s portfolio.”

Saori Dubourg, BASF executive director responsible for its Agricultural Solutions segment adds: “Building on the competent new team members and the enhanced portfolio, we will offer farmers a greater choice of solutions addressing their needs for high-quality seeds, chemical and biological crop protection. Moreover, this transaction will create new opportunities for future growth and strengthen our global innovation potential.”