South Africa finally approves DuPont-Pannar Seed deal

The South African Competition Appeal Court has approved E I DuPont de Nemours & Co's proposed acquisition of domestic seed company Pannar Seed, more than a year-and-a half after the  US chemical giant offered to buy a majority stake in the largest seed company in Africa.

The approval is subject to the companies meeting certain conditions, including long-term investment in South Africa, both firms said in a statement.

In September 2010, DuPont's South African subsidiary Pioneer Hi-Bred had proposed to buy a majority stake in Pannar, a significant competitor in the international seed industry.

While making its proposal, Des Moines, Iowa-based Pioneer said the partnership would help it develop genetically engineered crops specifically tailored to different regions of Africa.

Pioneer said that the deal would expand its presence in Africa where yields have lagged for crops such as corn. Improved yields there are seen as crucial to feeding a growing world population that is consuming more meat, which requires more grain for feed. Pioneer said the deal would provide farmers "with better products faster than either business could on its own.

With an eye on the approximately 75 million acres (30 million hectares) available for maize production, Pioneer had said, ''Africa represents a significant opportunity for improved productivity. Average grain yields are just one ton per hectare, less than one-third of what is achieved in other developing regions and only one-fifth of yields in developed countries.''