The U.S. and Canadian operations of Bayer CropScience have signed agreements to purchase Crompton Corporation’s 50 percent share of the Gustafson seed treatment business for $124 million in cash.

The action would give RTP-based Bayer CropScience, which already holds a 50 percent share of the U.S. and Canadian Gustafson joint ventures, full ownership of Gustafson’s North American business, subject to customary closing conditions. The transaction is expected to close by the end of the first quarter.

Gustafson manufactures and markets seed treatment products and related equipment. Based in Plano, TX, and Calgary, Canada, the company employs approximately 250 people in North America. In 2003, Gustafson sales were approximately $130 million.

“Purchase of the Gustafson seed treatment business would allow us to participate directly in this increasingly important segment of — crop protection markets,” said Emil Lansu, president and chief executive officer of Bayer CropScience and head of Bayer CropScience for North America.

According to Lansu, the acquisition would give Bayer CropScience the benefit of the full range of Gustafson’s products, including certain products from third parties, which would continue to make up a key component of the Gustafson product portfolio.

“We presently have several strong seed treatment products,” Lansu added. “With the Gustafson purchase we look to more fully realize the potential of this business while enhancing our ability to provide solutions for growers.”

Bayer CropScience: