DuPont in talks with rivals about agri business: interim CEO

Tue Oct 27, 2015 2:31pm EDT
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By Swetha Gopinath and Sneha Banerjee

(Reuters) - DuPont (DD.N: Quote) is talking to rivals about its agriculture business, interim Chief Executive Edward Breen said on Tuesday, less than a week after Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N: Quote) announced a review of its farm chemicals and seeds unit.

Falling crop prices and rising fertilizer output have triggered talk of consolidation among farm-focused companies.

DuPont has been touted as a potential buyer of Dow's farm unit, but some have questioned if the company is in a position to do so.

Breen took over earlier this month after Ellen Kullman abruptly stepped down from her post.

Asked on a post-earnings call if DuPont was looking sell its farm unit, he said: "We will do what's right for our shareholders to create value for them."

Breen did not commit to a sale or a purchase at the farm unit, which accounted for 22 percent of DuPont's total revenue in the third quarter ended Sept. 30.

"We would be shocked if DuPont's management team did not at least look at Dow's business – a large agriculture business like Dow's rarely changes owners," said Grayson Witcher, a portfolio manager at Mawer Investment Management Ltd. Mawer owns DuPont shares.

Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management, which lost a proxy battle for DuPont's board seats in May, has said DuPont can save $2 billion-$4 billion in annual costs by separating its volatile materials businesses from more stable businesses.   Continued...

A sign at the entrance to the DuPont chemical plant reads "Safety is a core value" in LaPorte, Texas, 26 miles (42 km) downtown Houston, November 17, 2014.   REUTERS/Erwin Seba