Arysta plans market expansion in Western Canada


CNS Canada — Arysta LifeScience, a crop chemical company known in Western Canada for its line of Everest products, now wants to become a household name for Prairie farmers.

Platform Specialty Products, Arysta’s parent company, last Aug. 24 announced plans to separate its agricultural solutions and performance solutions segments.

Platform Specialty chairman Martin Franklin said in a release there was interest from investors to put capital behind Platform’s agriculture business. Arysta is now preparing an initial public offering (IPO), which it expects to have complete by mid-2018 for listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

“Once this is done, we’ll actually have a pretty strong balance sheet and it’ll give us the platform to grow from into the future,” said Craig Brekkas, country head of Arysta LifeScience Canada, in a conference call Thursday with Glacier FarmMedia reporters.

The IPO is the next step on the ladder of growth for Arysta. While other chemical companies have been making headlines with mergers — such as Monsanto and Bayer’s US$62.5 billion merger, and Dow Chemical and DuPont’s recently completed merger into DowDuPont — Arysta underwent its own structural changes three years ago.

Platform decided in 2014 it wanted to create a chemical company similar to BASF, so it bought three companies, Chemtura AgroSolutions, Agriphar and Arysta LifeScience. The newly minted company was rebranded under the Arysta LifeScience name in 2015.

Since then the company has planned and begun carrying out its growth strategy. “What’s changed today with Platform buying the three organizations is that we know that Arysta LifeSciences is really here for the future. We are in a position where we’re going to be around,” Brekkas said.

The IPO will help to make the company financially stable long-term. While Arysta has decided to take the IPO route currently, Brekkas mentioned during the conference call that a merger isn’t off the table.

“Acquisition and merger is a growth strategy for Arysta long-term. (The IPO is) kind of a starting point,” Brekkas said.

Globally, Arysta makes US$2 billion in sales annually and is the world’s ninth largest chemical company. As part of its growth strategy, Arysta has spent US$75 million on development in the last year.

Arysta in the last year and a half has also expanded its product portfolio in Western Canada from one product to five, and in the next three years plans to increase that number.

“Where we’ve been primarily a wheat-focused company for quite a few years, with the transition over the past few years (we’ve become) cereals-focused. As well as we’re expanding into pulses, (which) is a significant area of focus for us, as well as to a secondary degree corn and soy,” Trent McCrea, portfolio marketing manager for Arysta Canada, said on Thursday’s call.

Arysta has decided to invest in five different areas: crop establishment, resistance weed management, specialty protection niches, plant stress and stimulation and crop residue management.

“(These are) all really high-margin high-growth opportunities and that’s where we’re going to invest our dollars and our resources for growth into the future. Today about 50 to 60 per cent of our business falls into those categories… but certainly for growth it’ll be 100 per cent,” Brekkas said.

Currently 10 per cent of Arysta’s business is from bio-solutions and it is the second largest biostimulant company in the world. Arysta has a “strong desire” to be the leader in the bio-solutions space, Brekkas said.

About 50 per cent of Arysta’s business in North America is in California and Eastern Canada, serving the horticulture market, into which the company hopes to expand into Western Canada also.

— Ashley Robinson writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Glacier FarmMedia company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Follow her at @ashleymr1993 on Twitter.

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