GfK to sell animal, crop health division

New company will continue specializing in all aspects of market research in animal health, crop protection, farm machinery and equipment, seed/biotech and fertilizers

Leading market research group GfK has agreed to sell its global animal and crop health division to a consortium consisting of Inflexion, a private equity investor, and the current management led by Stephen Hearn. Closing of the transaction is intended to take place in the first quarter of 2016.

The deal strengthens GfK’s focus on strategic business areas with synergy potential. At the same time, the deal supports the animal and crop health division’s plans to invest, innovate and grow.

The business, led by its Global Director Stephen Hearn, has grown rapidly since inception, delivering sales of around EUR30 million (pro-forma base) or $40 million in 2014.

Building on the foundations of an already successful business with a long history in agricultural and animal health market research globally, the new company will continue specializing in all aspects of market research in animal health, crop protection, farm machinery and equipment, seed/biotech and fertilizers. All of the approximately 220 employees across 18 major agricultural and animal health markets are planned to transfer to the new company.

Gerhard Hausruckinger, member of GfK’s management board, comments: “This move is a win-win for both GfK and our animal and crop health division. The transaction allows us to focus on areas where we see better strategic fits and better synergy opportunities with other parts of our company. Our agreement includes a partnership approach with the new owners that sets the business up for further success and continued customer benefits.”

In a partnership agreement that is part of the transaction, GfK have agreed to support the new company in the years ahead by allowing them to benefit from GfK’s innovative methodologies, processes and insights. In addition, to provide clients with a global reach, the new company and GfK will collaborate in geographies where the new company does not currently have a presence.

Stephen Hearn, GfK’s Global Director Animal and Crop Health and designated CEO of the new company, comments “We are on the brink of an exciting future with a new, agile organization. We will continue to invest in attracting top market research talent to deliver excellence to our clients through innovation, new product development, acquisitions and joint ventures. We plan to make a significant portion of the new company ‘employee-owned’ to foster this approach.”