Top firms lead in blockbuster agri deal

by Sol Dolor07 Aug 2018

Two top-tier New Zealand firms took lead in the acquisition of PGG Wrightson’s seed and grain business.

Simpson Grierson advised Danish cooperative DLF Seeds, which has agreed to buy the seed and grain business of PGG Wrightson (PGW) for $421m. PGW was counseled by Chapman Tripp.

The Simpson Grierson team was led by partner Simon Vannini. The team included specialists from multiple practices of the firm and worked on the full range of legal aspects of the transaction, including the Overseas Investment Act and Commerce Act, and negotiations of the transaction documents, Simpson Grierson said.

“The complexity of this deal stemmed from the need to deliver ongoing value through the acquisition and resulting partnership of these two companies, that meets both shareholder and regulatory approval,” Vannini said.

Simpson Grierson also coordinated legal counsel in Australia and Uruguay, working with Clayton Utz and Guyer & Regules, respectively. Simpson Grierson also worked closely with DLF financial and tax advisor EY.

Chapman Tripp partners John Strowger and Joshua Pringle and solicitor Tom Jemson acted on corporate aspects of the deal. The firm’s team also included Andrew Woods, partner and board chair, as well as senior associate Ben Warden, who advised on the ongoing commercial relationship between PGW and the seed and grain business. Partner Lucy Cooper provided expert advice on competition law aspects of the deal.

The blockbuster deal follows a strategic review of PGW, which is New Zealand’s largest agribusiness services business. A full or partial sale of PGW has been expected since it was reported that majority Chinese-owned Agria Corp wanted to exit its 50% stake in PGW.

With the deal, DLF, which is the leading cool season clover and grass seed company in the world, adds to its portfolio the leading temperate forage seed operation in the Southern Hemisphere. DLF is owned by about 3,000 Danish seed farmers.

PGW CEO Ian Glasson said the deal would mean “business as usual” for the company and its customers. The deal includes a long-term distribution agreement and the right for the seed and grain unit to use the PGG Wrightson name.

The acquisition is subject to approvals, including from PGW shareholders and New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office and Commerce Commission. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, as well as other regulators in South America, must also approve the deal.


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