FRANKLINTON, N.C. – Novozymes, which operates its U.S. headquarters in Franklinton, is acquiring the crop bioscience group of drug giant Merck for $275 million.

The acquisition is the third made by Denmark-based Novozymes in three years. The company focuses on agriculture biotech, such as plant enzymes for use in ethanol.

EMD/Merck Crop BioScience, which is based in Milwaukee, Wis., has operations in North and South America. It has some 165 employees.

According to Novozymes, the Merck group will have an estimated $60 million in revenues this year.

“The acquisition of EMD/Merck Crop BioScience strengthens our global position in the growing industry for agricultural biologicals providing products that enhance the natural growth and yield of crops,” said Steen Riisgaard, chief executive officer of Novozymes, in a statement.

“We have found in EMD/Merck Crop BioScience a company that has a strong strategic fit with our existing BioAg business,” he added. “In brief, it has a complementary product range and geographical scope, a strong R&D pipeline, and very talented people. Together we can utilize Novozymes’ unique biotechnology platform to bring a new level of innovation to the market.”

Novozymes has expanded its efforts into improving crop fertility since 2007with the acquisitions of Philom Bios in Canada and Turfal in Brazil.

The deal is expected to close by May of next year.

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