Scotts Miracle-Gro sells off international operations to focus on core business and hydroponics

Scotts Miracle-Gro has shed its Australia and European businesses in a deal that frees up the company to direct its attention on lawn-and-garden products and an ambition to become “the world’s most successful hydroponic gardening business.”

The Marysville, Ohio-based Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. on Thursday completed the previously announced sale of its overseas operations to Exponent Private Equity LLP. The $250 million deal includes operations in Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Poland and the United Kingdom, leaving Scotts in a position where close to 100 percent of its sales and profits would come from North America, officials have said.

The sale to Exponent and a previous divestiture of Scotts LawnService allows Scotts to dedicate its money and attention to its long-established core business and its high-flying venture into hydroponics. Scotts has spent hundreds of millions of dollars plucking up sector leaders and folding them into subsidiary Hawthorne Gardening Co. in a move to capitalize on the ancillary wings of the fledgling U.S. marijuana industry.

“The integration of acquisitions under the Hawthorne umbrella is proceeding as planned, and we are in the closing stages of completing the acquisition of a marquee brand in another category of hydroponics,” Jim Hagedorn, Scotts chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“Our goal remains the same: to create the world’s most successful hydroponic gardening business.”

Scotts’ jaunt into hydroponics started in Boulder, Colo., where it invested in AeroGrow International, a maker of indoor garden systems. Scotts now owns a majority stake of AeroGrow.

The international deal comes a year after Scotts shuttled its LawnService business into a joint venture with TruGreen. Scotts took a 30 percent stake in that venture and has received $290 million in cash as a result — including an $87 million dividend announced Thursday.



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