UPDATE: Bayer CropScience To Acquire Hornbeck Seed Co.

Bayer CropScience, a subsidiary of German-owned subgroup of Bayer AG, announced Wednesday that it has made a deal to buy Hornbeck Seed Co. Inc. of DeWitt, the private seed development company that is part of the Hornbeck Agricultural Group.

The terms of the deal were not announced, but Hornbeck Seed spokeswoman Tami Hornbeck said President Jon Hornbeck and his brother, CFO Troy Hornbeck, would continue to manage the seed business. They are among 47 employees who will join the Bayer payroll.

"Hornbeck's focus on breeding top yielding soybean varieties, combined with Bayer CropScience's active trait research and development pipeline, including herbicide-tolerance and insect- and nematode resistance programs specific to soybean, will strengthen Bayer CropScience's position as a provider of value-added seeds and traits," Bayer said in announcing the purchase.

Hornbeck Seed was founded in 1981 by Waymon and Joan Hornbeck. Their three sons, Jeff, Troy and Jon, bought the company in 2004 and operated it along with Hornbeck Brothers Partnership, a farming operation, and other related businesses. Jeff Hornbeck will continue to run the farm.

In 2007, the Hornbecks told Arkansas Business that their companies had annual revenue of about $10 million. 

Bayer CropScience was hit last week with a $136.8 million verdict in a lawsuit filed by Riceland Foods Inc. of Stuttgart for contaminating local rice crops with its genetically modified LibertyLink protein, which was designed to resist certain herbicides. European markets will not accept genetically modified foods.

The award is believed to be the largest in Arkansas history. The circuit court jury said Bayer CropScience owed Riceland $11.8 million in compensatory damages and $125 million in punitive damages, although those punitive damages are likely to be reduced under Arkansas law.

Continued use of LibertyLink is part of the plan for Hornbeck Seed.

"Bayer CropScience's proprietary traits will be introgressed and commercialized via Hornbeck's soybean germplasm base and high quality breeding program. Hornbeck varieties with the LibertyLink trait will continue to be a key near term area of focus of the breeding program to help address weed resistance in the southern US soybean market," Bayer said in a press release.