Jain Irrigation acquires Australian agri-tech firm Observant
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Jain Irrigation Systems Ltd (JISL), the country's largest micro-irrigation firm, has acquired Australian agri-tech firm Observant Pty Ltd, marking its fourth reported acquisition in the overseas market.

The company, however, did not disclose the deal size.  

The deal will enable Jain Irrigation to benefit farmers with Observant’s broad field monitoring and control technology. Observant is known globally for its in-field hardware and cloud based applications for precision farm water management, Jain Irrigation said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to access the best technology in the industry with Observant, a globally recognised agri-tech leader. The award winning Observant product line is ready to scale to the tremendous global market that the Jain company services,” said Aric Olson, president of Jain Irrigation.

Observant, which was launched in 2003 by Simon Holmes à Court and Matthew Pryor, provides water management devices with practical farm-ready solutions. Claiming to have more than 5,000 connected devices in the field, the firm has operations in Australia and the US.

"Precision water management is a global opportunity, and by combining our technical leadership with Jain’s global scale and reach, more farmers will have access to the technologies required to meet the food challenges of the 21st century,” said Pyror.

As part of the deal, Pryor will assume the role of Australian CEO and CTO of the acquired firm. Holmes will continue as an adviser to the company.

Fennebresque & Co acted as financial advisor and Norton Gledhill as legal advisor to Observant. Ice Miller and Corrs Chambers Westgarth provided legal advice to Jain for the deal.

Jain Irrigation has in the past made several acquisitions. Switzerland-based Thomas Machines SA, Israeli-based NaanDan and US-based PureSense Environmental Inc are among previous bets.

Jalgaon-based Jain Irrigation is one of the largest players in the agro-industrial business, controlling a large chunk of the irrigation market, particularly in the micro and drip irrigation segment. It owns companies and plants throughout India, as well as in the US, the UK, Turkey, Switzerland and Israel.

The public-listed company, which was launched in 1963, has business presence in three complementary sectors – water and irrigation; agriculture, farming and food processing; and clean energy, including solar energy.

With a workforce of more than 10,000 people, JISL claims to be running manufacturing plants in 29 locations across the globe. The company registered just 2% rise in net sales to Rs 6,292 crore for the year ended 31 March 2016. Its net profit, however, shot up 60% to Rs 88 crore over the previous financial year.

In August last year, Jain Irrigation hived off its food business to wholly owned unit Jain Farm. This was to be a precursor to independent fundraising, as it was looking to create a strategic focus on the fast-growing food business and consequent value-creation opportunities.

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