By: Sybille De La Hamadie
French seeds group Vilmorin would consider taking over part of Syngenta's seed activities if these were put up for sale as part of the proposed takeover by U.S. rival Monsanto, the company said on Wednesday.
"If we have a position ourselves or show an interest, of course we will position ourselves in due time," Vilmorin's chief financial officer Daniel Jacquemond told analyst after the release of the group's results.
He stressed, however, it was too early to imagine any transaction.
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, said it would divest Syngenta's seeds and genetic traits businesses to win regulatory approval for its proposed takeover of its Swiss rival.
Syngenta has so far rejected Monsanto's approaches.
Vilmorin, the world's fourth-largest seed maker, posted consolidated sales of 1.27 billion euros ($1.4 billion) for its fiscal year to June 30, up 0.7 percent and in line with a warning issued in April.
It also confirmed a contraction of its current operating margin, which should be under 9 percent in 2014-2015, down from 10.4 percent the previous year.
Its operating result should fall "significantly" from the 129.7 million euros profit recorded last year, mainly reflecting difficult conditions in its crop seed business, Jacquemond said.
Vilmorin's crop seed sales fell 3.3 percent in 2014-2015 as they suffered from the financial crisis in key markets Russia and Ukraine, that dented farmer spending, while seed sowings fell in Europe and the United States, it said.
The French company recorded sales of about 60 million euros for sunflower and maize seeds in the two Black Sea countries in 2014/205, down from 80 million the previous year, Jacquemond said.
Vegetable seed sales, by contrast, rose 6.3 percent, so will represent a similar share as crop seeds in Vilmorin's overall revenue for the year.
"Signs in the vegetable branch are positive or even very positive in some activities, which should counter-balance the extreme carefulness we have on the crop seeds," Jacquemond said.
Originally Published: Reuters