After years of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in the late 1990s and early 2000s, only six pesticide manufacturers represented over 76% of global sales by 2011. After even more recent merger activity, the dominant players in the global pesticide space further narrowed, to the four mega-companies below.

Key Takeaways

  • By 2001, just six pesticide manufacturers commanded more than 76% of global pesticide sales.
  • Due to continued merger deals, now just four companies currently dominate the pesticide sector: Syngenta, Bayer AG, DowDupont, and BASF.

Syngenta

Headquartered in Basel, Switzerland, Syngenta AG (NYSE: SYT), with a market capitalization of $40.9 billion as of May 2017, was formed through the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals in 2000. The company develops commercial herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides for a variety of crops, including corn, cereals, fruits, and vegetables. As one of the largest worlds pesticide producers, it commanded $12.65 billion in sales in 2017.

Two years prior, Syngenta rejected an acquisition offer from Monsanto Company (NYSE: MON) valued at $47 billion, claiming the offer was too low because internal estimates of the company's value were closer to $62 billion. However, in February 2016, Syngenta agreed to be purchased in cash for $43 billion by ChemChina.

Bayer AG

Based in Leverkusen, Germany, Bayer AG (OTC: BAYRY) develops and sells healthcare and agricultural products to markets around the world. The company's market cap as of October 26, 2018, was $70.34 billion. Its CropScience division produces genetically-modified seeds and pesticides for commercial and consumer use, with pesticide sales of €9.57 billion in 2017.

On May 19, 2016, Bayer executed a $62 billion buyout offer to Monsanto, based on its interest in Monsanto's seed business. Monsanto rejected the offer less than a week later, stating that the terms were incomplete and financially inadequate. In June 2018, Bayer finally absorbed Monsanto and retired the name.

DowDupont

Midland, Michigan-based The Dow Chemical Company (TDCC), and Wilmington, Delaware-based DuPont de Nemours and Company, agreed to a merger in December 2015. With a combined valued of approximately $120 billion, shareholders approved the merger in July 2016.

In 2017, the cumulative pesticide revenue of the company, renamed DowDupont, exceeded $14.34 billion. After the completion of the merger, the entity, now headquartered in Michigan, announced plans to silo its business into the following three areas:

  1. An agricultural group to be called Dow
  2. A special sciences business to be called Dupont
  3. A material sciences company, to be called Corteva Agriscience 

With thousands of products currently in the testing phase, the group shows no signs of stagnation, after this highly-publicized merger.

M&A activity in the pesticide space isn't restricted to the largest global players. Case in point: Rentokil Steritech, an American subsidiary of London-based Rentokil Initial plc, recently acquired Locust Grove, Georgia-based Active Pest Control, a $21 million operation.

BASF

Headquartered in Ludwigshafen am Rhein, Germany, BASF SE (BASFY), with a market cap of $60.98 billion, offers pesticides through its Agricultural Solutions division, one of five separate chemical segments in the company. Its pesticide products are primarily aimed at commercial users, with 2017 sales of €16.33 billion.

For several years, BASF was unique among the top pesticide companies, as the only firm not actively involved in M&A activities—either as an acquirer or as a target. This changed in April 2018, when BASF purchased from Bayer a major part of its seed business, for an astounding €7.6 billion. As of October 2018, BASF is the largest chemical producer in the world.