* Pays $1.02 billion to Norwest Equity Partners
* Biggest BASF deal since 2010 Cognis purchase
* In line with BASF strategy to become less cyclical
FRANKFURT, Sept 20 BASF, the world's
largest chemicals maker, is to buy U.S. crop protection company
Becker Underwood from buyout firm Norwest Equity Partners for
$1.02 billion to boost its farming pesticides division, the
German group said on Thursday.
BASF's largest deal since its 2010 acquisition of Cognis,
which makes additives for household products, continues its
strategy of buying into industries that are less dependent on
the business cycle than its core chemicals and plastics
businesses catering to industrial customers.
Becker Underwood, which expects sales of $240 million in
2012, is a global provider of seed treatments, biological crop
protection products, gardening products and animal nutrition.
Seeds treatments are chemical coatings that protect seeds
and germ buds against microbes and fungi.
The purchase helps BASF keep up with larger pesticides
rivals Syngenta, Bayer and Dupont's
BASF's Chief Executive Kurt Bock said in July that ample
liquidity and cash reserves were available for deals.
Also that month, BASF's Agricultural Solutions division
posted record quarterly operating earnings as farmers used more
pesticides to get the most out of a surge in grain prices, while
BASF industrial units faced weaker markets.
BASF said on Thursday that the pesticides division "is
expecting another top year in 2012" after record sales of 4.2
billion euros ($5.48 billion) last year.
The Becker Underwood deal is subject to regulatory approval
and the transaction is expected to be completed by the end of
this year, BASF added.