Agrinos Shapes Up for Belated IPO Amid Syngenta Project Progress

Agrinos AS Chief Executive Officer Tom Einar Rysst-Jensen said the delay to a planned initial public offering caused by a lapse in customer payments is a one off with owners pushing for a later listing to improve results.

The Norwegian maker of shrimp-based plant stimulants, part-owned by Swiss crop-chemical supplier Syngenta AG, will invite investment banks to pitch for the IPO advisory role this year, Rysst-Jensen said. Agrinos has slumped 46 percent this year in over the counter trading after fourth-quarter revenue missed management targets.

“The larger, longer-term investors don’t want us to rush into an IPO,” Rysst-Jensen said in an interview today. “The general sentiment was let’s be able to show the underlying values of the company.”

A share sale in the first half of 2014 is the aim, according to Rysst-Jensen. The delay from the second half of this year initial target gives Syngenta extra time to research applications for Agrinos’s technology while the Norwegian company remains in private hands. The relationship with Syngenta, which holds a 3.6 percent stake and an observer seat on the board, is “functioning very well,” the CEO said.

Agrochemical companies often buy small joint-venture partners to prevent technology ending up in the hands of competitors. After investing 22 million euros ($28 million) in a research project with Devgen, Syngenta went on to buy the hybrid-rice seedmaker for $523 million.

Agrinos offers shrimp-head based biological treatments to replenish soil nutrients run down by industrial farming techniques. Syngenta is “looking for Agrinos’s best interests,” Rysst-Jensen said. He declined to say if the company had received offers from strategic investors or buyout firms as a result of its lower share price. The company has a market value of 937.4 million kroner ($164.8 million) on Norway’s over-the-counter market.

Syngenta spokesman Daniel Braxton declined to comment on the planned IPO.

Agrinos’s largest shareholders include founders Karl Fick and Aaron Powers, and Norway’s billionaire Bergesen shipping family. Former Yara Chief Executive Officer Thorleif Enger is Agrinos’ chairman and also one of the top 10 investors.