Vilmorin (VILM.PA) has acquired Genica Research Corporation to boost its place as the second-largest vegetable seed maker after concluding Syngenta's activities were no longer for sale.

Genica Research Corporation, headquartered in California, specializes in research, breeding, production and distribution by delegation of hybrid vegetable seeds, mainly sweet and hot peppers, cucumber, summer squash and tomato.

Genica had sales of more than $25 million in 2015 and 50 employees. Vilmorin did not disclose the value of the takeover.

Vilmorin, whose shares had risen by 2.65 percent by 4 a.m. ET, sells both vegetable and crop seeds.

Its vegetable business has proved more profitable in recent years as crop seeds suffered from the financial crisis in Russia and Ukraine and sowings fell in Europe and the United States.

This was expected to continue in 2015-2016, Vilmorin Chief Executive Emmanuel Rougier said in a call with analysts, confirming an outlook given in October. 

Asked about Vilmorin's interest in Syngenta, raised after the Swiss agrochemicals group spurned a $47 billion takeover approach from Monsanto last year, Rougier said a partial sale of its vegetable seed business was no longer on the agenda.

Syngenta said it was in talks about a possible merger and weighing a number of options. These included discussions with China's state-owned ChemChina, U.S. seeds giant Monsanto (MON.N) and others, it said.

Vilmorin had said in October it would look at Syngenta's vegetable seeds activities if the Swiss chemicals group were to sell, but had stressed that the benefits were not obvious and the price might be too high.

(Reporting by Sybille de La Hamaide; Editing by Alexander Smith)

Originally Published: Reuters