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Aventis to sell ag business

Citing market consolidation, Aventis has announced it will sell its agricultural chemicals business.

The sale is also an effort by the company to focus on the company's pharmaceutical business.

"Since the creation of Aventis, market consolidation in both the pharmaceutical and agriculture sector has accelerated. By effecting the separation, Aventis would achieve strategic flexibility, clarity, and enhanced performance focus for both businesses," the company says.

In a Nov. 15 press release, Aventis said it will evaluate all value-enhancing options including a potential public offering of Aventis Crop Science under the name "Agreva."

The sale of Aventis CropScience, the company's crop protection and crop production business, is expected to be completed by the end of 2001.

The company says it will "initiate discussions" with Schering AG and expects to reach an agreement within a short period of time

A minority shareholder in the company, Schering AG owns 24 percent of Aventis Crop Science.

Aventis Crop Science, which was formed last year with the merger of Rhone-Poulenc and Hoeshst AG, says its agricultural business is "recovering despite a highly competitive and ongoing difficult environment."

Aventis Agriculture, which consolidates Aventis CropScience and Aventis Animal Nutrition, reported a decrease of 1.4 percent in first nine-month sales, as compared to the same period in 1999.

For Aventis CropScience, the company's crop protection and crop production business, first nine-month sales were reported down 1.8 percent from 1999. However, third quarter sales for the division reportedly rose 6 percent over the same period in 1999.

The company recently found itself in the midst of controversy over its StarLink corn. Traces of the transgenic corn were found in tiny amounts in some taco shells, despite the fact that the corn varieties were not approved for human consumption.

In response, Aventis voluntarily withdrew its StarLink registration application with the Environmental Protection Agency until a new registration for both food and feed use is approved.

The company is requesting regulatory officials grant a time-limited approval for a presence of the corn in human food. "The new submission demonstrates that consumer exposure to food products containing StarLink Cry9C protein, even under worst-case scenarios, is many thousands of times smaller than that required to sensitize and lead to a later allergic reaction," Aventis said.

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