Crop Genetics International, the Hanover-based developer of biological pest-control systems, announced today an agreement to acquire Espro, Inc., a Columbia company founded four years ago by a former Crop Genetics employee.
Espro develops processes to produce naturally occurring organisms that can infect and destroy targeted insects. The organisms, unlike chemical pesticides, do not harm beneficial insects, wildlife or humans. Espro is developing economical ways of producing the organisms -- something that has so far eluded researchers elsewhere.
"They were at the stage where they either merge with somebody or raise some cash and we found their technology very appealing," said Joseph W. Kelly, chief executive officer of Crop Genetics.
"It's a whole new technology for us -- a new way to control pests for the farmer," Kelly said.
Crop Genetics plans to sell the Espro-developed products through joint development and marketing agreements with other companies.
Espro's operations will be merged into Crop Genetics over the next year, Kelly said. Espro employs eight people at a facility in Columbia. Crop Genetics employs about 100 in Hanover, Centerville, Md., and Louisiana.
Under the terms of the purchase agreement between the two companies, Crop Genetics will exchange 450,000 shares of its common stock to acquire all the capital stock of Espro. The agreement also provides for Crop Genetics to issue up to $750,000 in cash and 300,000 in additional shares if certain performance events occur.