Israeli agro-tech company Evogene Ltd. (Nasdaq: EVGN; TASE:EVGN), dual-listed on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, today announced the signing of a strategic cooperation agreement with Corteva Agriscience, formerly the seeds division of Dow and DuPont. Corteva is now one of the world's leading agricultural companies.
Under the agreement, Corteva will invest in Evogene's LaVie Bio subsidiary, which specializes in microbiome for improving plants. LaVie Bio develops bacterial compositions that are sprayed on plants, used to coat seeds, or are integrated in the soil around the plant in order to improve the crop or the plant's features. The company's products are currently in the development stages.
Corteva will invest $10 million in LaVie Bio, and will also transfer to it the activity of Taxon Biosciences, Corteva's microbiome company. Following the investment, Corteva will hold 30% of LaVie Bio, leaving Evogene with 70%. Corteva will have the right to market some of the products to be developed by LaVie Bio in its established market channels, while LaVie Bio will be paid royalties.
Taxon's assets include a large collection of bacterial samples and products in development. LaVie Bio has access to Evogen's calculation system developed over two decades in order to mine information from plant genetic data. In its microbiome activity, Evogene integrates information about plants' genetics with information about the bacteria's genetics, and cross-references the result with information about the plant's characteristics.
This investment supports Evogene's new approach of splitting off its activity into subsidiaries and allowing separate investments in each of them. The split began several months ago. The current deal gives LaVie Bio a value of tens of millions of dollars, similar to Evogene's market cap, showing that the gamble that separate investments in subsidiaries will increase the company's value seems to be paying off in this deal, at least.
Evogene has created four subsidiaries: chemical pesticides adapted to the genetics of the plant and the pest, seed improvement through genetic engineering and cross-breeding, microbiome and medical cannabis-based products for human medicine, and microbiome company LaVie Bio. The company has several cooperative ventures with large agricultural companies.
Corteva crop protection business platform president Suzanne Wasson says, "This transaction demonstrates Corteva’s ongoing commitment to bringing to market new and differentiated technologies for our customers. We are pleased to collaborate with Lavie Bio - a leader in the field of agriculture biologicals.
Evogene president and CEO and LaVie chairman Ofer Haviv commented that the deal follows two years of joint development. LaVie CEO Ido Dor said that following this cooperation, was now in a comfortable position to meet its target for improving food quality, agricultural sustainability, and crop yields through the use of microbiome products. The company's pipeline contains products for improving crops, durability, and features in huge agricultural markets, such as corn and wheat, as well as product with high profit margins, such as grapes.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 7, 2019
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