Nirit Seeds and TomaTech specialize in breeding vegetable seeds, primarily tomatoes. AP Partners Fund and Discount Capital (an investment house) acquired the two companies at a value of over $60 million with the aim of merging them and creating the largest Israeli vegetable breeding seeds company. The new company will benefit from significant synergies and unique R&D capabilities that will drive accelerated growth in the global vegetable markets.
Following the merger, the workforce will get to above 80 employees globally, and will include molecular biologists, breeders, agronomists, sales experts, and others. The new company will continue its comprehensive breeding operations in Israel, Spain, Mexico, and Italy, and will significantly expand into the Netherlands and North America, targeting high-tech greenhouses, while strengthening its marketing channels in those regions, and establishing new channels in other geographies.
Ofer Ben Zvi will serve as CEO of the merged company, and Hagai Stadler, managing partner at AP Partners, will chair the board. The high-profile management team will also include Dr. Shay Leviatov (VP R&D), Yoram Pachiuk (VP Sales and Business Development), Paul Van Dijk (VP Sales North EU and NAFTA) and Dr. Boaz Kaplan (Chief Scientist).
Ofer Ben Zvi, CEO, said: "The integration of our excellent and experienced teams along with our advanced breeding and genetic capabilities and worldwide marketing channels will enable us to position the merged company at the forefront of the seeds industry. We plan to leverage the companies’ advanced genetic technologies and synergies to accelerate growth. We strongly believe the merged company will provide better products, with the highest standard of service, and uncompromising quality, positioning it at the forefront of the seeds industry. We are grateful to the customers and suppliers of both companies for their trust and long-term support, which we highly cherish."
Hagai Stadler, Managing Partner at AP Partners and Chairman of the Board, added: "The fresh food industry will face significant changes in upcoming years. New cultivation technologies, robotics and automation, global climate changes, and the quest for unique flavors, shapes and color profiles create distinctive opportunities for an innovative, agile, and ambitious breeding house. We are confident the through organic growth and additional mergers and acquisitions, the new company will become a distinctive and dominant player in this market, and one of the most innovative and interesting vegetable seed house worldwide".
VP R&D Shai Leviatov stated: “Our goal is to establish a top-notch center of innovation, knowledge, and cutting-edge breeding technologies. Backed by an expert team of professionals, we plan to speed up the breeding process utilizing the great potential of the diverse germplasm of the two companies, and their unique molecular-biology capabilities, to take penetrate new segments and to better serve future customer needs.”
Nirit Seeds is one of the most successful developers of tomato and pepper seeds sold in international markets. In recent years, the company invested significantly in the development and marketing of breakthrough proprietary genetic markers that leverage advanced genetic capabilities. Established 30 years ago by Baruch Yogev, Boaz Faivisevitch and Hana Slabbaert, Nirit exports its seeds to over 50 countries via its longstanding marketing channels and three subsidiaries in Spain, Italy and Mexico. Nirit has some 50 employees in Israel and worldwide. Following the merger, Hana and Boaz will continue to consult with the company, as senior advisers to the board.
In the last 20 years, TomaTech has become one of Israel's leading seed breeders. Founded by Dr. Favi Vidavski and Zion Cohen, TomaTech is among Israel's leading tomato seed developers. It focuses on developing innovative and quality tomato varieties for premium western markets.
Following the merger, Dr. Favi Vidavski will continue to consult with the company. TomaTech recently announced a breakthrough in its effort to breed varieties resilient to BoRFV, a virus that damages tomato crops worldwide, and plans are underway to market ToBRFV-resistant varieties in the near future. TomaTech exports its produce to more than 20 countries worldwide via TomaTech’s subsidiary in Spain. It employs 30 people in Israel, Spain, Italy the US, and the Netherlands.
Established in 2018 by Samuel Vlodinger, Hagai Stadler, Israel Shliser and Eyal Hevroni, AP Partners Fund is one of Israel's most successful private equity funds, focused on small and medium companies, with international high growth prospects. Among its portfolio companies are publicly traded TopGum, a developer of propriety supplement gummy for leading international players in the food, pharmaceuticals and food supplement sectors; solar energy company EnerPoint, and sports-tech company Blazepod. The fund has $150 million in assets under management.
The agricultural seed industry is one of Israel's most advanced and technology-intense sectors. According to the Seeds Division of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, seed exports from Israel currently generate $200 million in annual revenues. There are approximately 25 large and medium-sized companies in the local industry.
According to market research, the global vegetable seeds industry is valuated at $8 billion annually and is growing at an average annual growth rate of 8%. The market for tomato seeds reports an annual turnover of $2.5 billion, representing one-third of the overall vegetable seed market. The tomato seed market is undergoing rapid transformation due to the introduction of innovative technologies for development and cultivation processes (industrial greenhouses, vertical cultivation and more), climatic changes, and the changes in customer preferences toward differentiated and tasty products, which significantly impact the entire value chain.
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