RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK –Bayer AG, the company whose list of products is so long it could give you a headache, will plant the headquarters for its crop-science subsidiary in Research Triangle Park.
The decision in favor of RTP comes after the October announcement that Bayer AG agreed to buy Aventis CropScience for $6.5 billion, including the assumption of $2 billion of debt.
The merger is expected be official in March.
Ted Conner, a Durham Chamber of Commerce official who worked closely in making RTP attractive to Bayer AG, says that Bayer CropScience will keep most of Aventis CropScience employees but that some lay offs are expected, most likely as a result of overlapping positions.
“There will be a small shifting round,” Conner says. “The 465 people at Aventis worked hard to keep their jobs.”
Conner says the decision to locate the headquarters in RTP came down to a matter of research over real estate
“(Bayer AG) has a large manufacturing facility in Kansas City but it was going to take a large investment on their behalf to move in there because they had no excess capacity,” Conner says. “Here, the intellectual capacity of the area and the combined research being done at the areas three largest universities, that was more attractive.”
However, the company will locate its core technology center in Kansas City, where a group will be responsible for its manufacturing operations, some research and development and regional sales.
State and local officials heavily recruited Bayer CropScience. The state offered Bayer AG incentives to move to RTP that included an eight percent tax on the amount of investment it makes to its facilities, $500 for every new job it creates and an additional $500,000 just for selecting RTP as its corporate office.
Germany-based Bayer AG is a subsidiary of Pittsburgh-based Bayer Corporation, a $29 billion company. Bayer Corp. is the original creator of aspirin back in the late 1890s. Shares of Bayer AG stock recently traded at $31.75.
France-based Aventis, a $20 billion company and one of the world’s largest life science firms, owned 74 percent of Aventis CropScience with Germany-based Schering AG holding the remaining 24 percent stake.
Analyst reports indicate that both Aventis and Schering have been looking to get out of the crop sciences business for some time in favor of the pharmaceutical industry.
Aventis Pharma, the company’s flagship, accounts for about 80 percent of it sales, with one-third of those coming from the U.S. market. Its roster of products includes the popular allergy drug Allegra. Schering is one of the world’s largest producer of birth control pills and hormone treatments, among other drugs.
Aventis CropScience made headlines a year ago when sales of its genetically modified corn, called StarLink, made its way into taco shells made by Kraft Foods. StarLink had only approved for use in animal feed and industrial products. Published reports say that Aventis suspended sales of StarLink and later signed an agreement with 17 state attorneys general in 2001 to reimburse those farmers whose credibility and sales were affected through association with StarLink.
In late 2001 the federal Centers for Disease Control issued a report saying that StarLink could not have caused the allergic reactions many people complained of following eating the taco shells.