Agrium buys polymer maker’s ag chem applications

A line of Starpharma’s dendrimer polymers, much like its VivaGel water-based gel, shown here, will be put to work carrying crop chemicals and fertilizers in the field for Agrium’s Loveland Products. (

Fertilizer and ag retail firm Agrium has closed a deal for an Australian polymer maker’s ag chemical business, aiming to put it to work in fertilizer and pesticide application.

Calgary-based Agrium said Tuesday it has bought Starpharma Holdings’ agrochemical business for A$35 million (C$35.3 million) via Agrium’s U.S. crop input arm, Loveland Products.

The deal includes Starpharma’s Michigan-based subsidiary, Dendritic Nanotechnologies, plus a new Australian subsidiary with all of Starpharma’s Priostar and agrochemical intellectual property and business assets, and a “small number of dedicated staff” based in Melbourne.

The sale, Agrium said, will “lay the foundation for the continued development and commercialization of the Priostar dendrimer polymer technology across a broad base of Loveland Products’ crop protection and specialty nutrition products, improving product performance and further enhancing Agrium Retail’s full solutions offering to growers.”

The Priostar technology, Agrium said, “has proven to provide numerous benefits including better weed control capabilities, formulation stability and reduced environmental impacts.”

Dendrimers, according to Starpharma, are a type of synthetic nanoscale polymer that’s “highly regular in size and structure and well suited to pharmaceutical and medical uses.”

For agriculture, the company has said its dendrimers can improve delivery of crop chemicals to boost efficacy and cut back both the frequency of application and the amounts applied.

Put to work in ag chem, the company said, its Priostar dendrimers can “enhance the performance” of chemicals through increased solubility and dispersion, improved protection of active ingredients and “increased adhesion to difficult surfaces.”

The Priostar technology “will serve to further differentiate our proprietary product line and open new product development partnership opportunities,” Agrium CEO Chuck Magro said in a release, adding the company is “uniquely positioned to commercialize this technology across our 1,500 ag retail centres.”

Starpharma’s core uses of the polymers, meanwhile, are in the pharmaceutical business, including its VivaGel condoms and gel products to prevent sexually transmitted infections, and its DEP drug delivery systems for medical and veterinary use.

The proceeds from the sale to Agrium will go to “expand and accelerate” the development of Starpharma’s pharmaceutical lines, the company said. — Network

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