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Lariat acquires generic crop protection company

Willowood USA will use the investment from speciality buyout firm Lariat to expand operations of its post-patent agri inputs business.

Lower mid-market private equity firm, Lariat Partners, has acquired a stake in generic crop protection products company Willowood USA, which will use the funding to expand its operations in the US.

“Lariat is providing the necessary growth capital to help Willowood USA make strategic hires, internally develop and opportunistically acquire new products, and enhance its sales and marketing efforts,” said Vijay Mundhra, co-founder of Willowood USA.

Willowood USA manufactures post-patent crop protection herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and plant growth regulators for the agriculture, turf and vegetation management.

“We have experienced excellent growth these past five years and this investment from Lariat will ramp up our expansion and broaden our presence in markets that we have not yet penetrated.” Brian Heinze, Willowood USA chief executive, said.

US farmers, particularly major grain producers, have been hit hard in recent years by declining food and commodity prices. Agri experts, including Dermot Hayes, of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at Iowa State University, have told Agri Investor, that US farmers will likely seek to reduce input costs in the face of falling revenues.

“We are very impressed with the management team at Willowood USA and the success they have experienced bringing valuable crop protection products to market at a time when growers are increasingly demanding high performing herbicides, fungicides and insecticides at competitive prices. Crop protection is a sub-vertical within our Food and Agribusiness industry focus,” said Lariat managing partner Kevin Mitchell.

Lariat Partners is a private equity firm specialising in buyout investments in agriculture, energy and environmental services, and healthcare services businesses in the US. The firm’s portfolio also includes Northern Seed a seed and seed treatment producer. The firm previously held an interest in plant nutrients company Actagro.

The firm held a final close on its debut fund in 2014 on $118 million, according to PEI Research & Analytics.