Cargill P.L.C. and Banks Agriculture have agreed to merge their U.K. agricultural operations, creating Banks Cargill Agriculture. Upon completion of the merger, anticipated in early March, Banks Cargill would have annual sales in excess of U.S.$665 million.

The new company would be based at Swinderby, Sandy and Andover, Cargill and Banks said. The two companies have been partners since June 1999 in a joint venture seed processing company, Newtech Processing Ltd., which is set to open a new seed plant in Sandy, Bedfordshire in early summer.

Mark Aitchison, general manager of Cargill Agricultural Division, will become managing director of the new company. "By streamlining our operations, Banks Cargill will achieve a long-term market position and will bring much needed stability, investment and leadership to meet the needs of our customers," he said.

Richard Banks, managing director of Banks Agriculture, will become chairman of the new company. Cargill P.L.C. has been in the U.K. since 1955 and employs 5,000 people at 14 plants.