08/18/2016 17h10

Vittia diversifies into biologics and eyes acquisitions

Valor Internacional

Grupo Vittia, a Brazilian producer of farm inputs specializing in microbial inoculants and organo-mineral fertilizers, is looking for new markets and will expand its production to increase revenues. The group hopes to increase revenue by 35% this year, to R$400 million, in a strategy that includes acquisitions in the biologic product segment.

 “We are focused on sustainability and interested in companies that achieved some kind of technological development, especially in biologic products, like pests controlled by parasite microorganisms,” commercial chief José Roberto de Castro says.

The new plans appear in the wake of a renaming. Formerly known as Bio Soja, Vittia changed its name to face the self-proposed diversification challenge. Based in São Joaquim da Barra, São Paulo, the company started by producing microbial inoculants (which help plants absorb nitrogen) for soybeans in 1971. It diversified in the 1990s with the purchase of an agrichemical maker, as well as an organo-mineral fertilizer producer. But the decisive step only happened two years ago: the acquisition of Samaritá, a key supplier of inputs for São Paulo’s citrus, fruit and vegetable growers.

“The acquisition pushed the group into new countries. Bio Soja was only operating in Paraguay, but Samaritá brought it to Chile, Peru, Mexico, Ecuador and Uruguay,” Mr. Castro says. The company was already eyeing other markets like Argentina and Egypt.

Vittia bought Samaritá after it got an investment in 2014. Until then fully controlled by the Romanini family, the group sold a 29.5% stake to fund Brasil Sustentabilidade for R$100 million. The founders held on to the remaining 70.5% and picked Wilson Romanini to head the business. Mr. Castro says the company doesn’t rule out further equity investments. “We see the possibility of raising R$100 million to R$120 million for investments in the near future.”

Three divisions currently operate under the group’s umbrella: Biosoja Agrociência and Samaritá Agrociência, which hold the portfolio of farm inputs, and Granorte Fertilizantes, producing micronutrients and more focused on supplying fertilizer makers such as Heringer, Mosaic and Yara.

The company has five plants in the São Paulo cities of Serrana, Ituverava and Artur Nogueira, in addition to São Joaquim da Barra. A sixth plant there, for biologic products, is already in the plans.

Slated to cost R$25 million, the new plant will join two other units in the city and should start operating in 12 months, although the group only expects it to reach full capacity in 36 months.