Pendrell Buys Into Provitro

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On Monday, intellectual-property investor Pendrell (NASDAQ: PCO  ) announced that it has purchased a 68% stake in agricultural technology firm Provitro Biosciences.

Privately owned Provitro, formerly named Booshoot LLC, owns a proprietary process for "commercial-scale plant propagation" (a.k.a. "farming" -- but on an industrial scale). Pendrell Chief Executive Officer Ben Wolff describes the process, which he termed "micropropagation," as helping to get plants growing "in greater quantities, in less time, at lower cost, and with less impact on the environment than traditional methods."

Provitro has already used the process to grow ornamental bamboo for its retail customers Home Depot (NYSE: HD  ) and Costco (NASDAQ: COST  ) , branding the bamboo grown through its process as "Bamboo That Behaves." The company has a third major customer in tissue maker Kimberly-Clark (NYSE: KMB  ) , which is looking into using Provitro-grown bamboo as raw material for its tissue products.

Financial terms of Pendrell's investment in Provitro were not disclosed, but Pendrell did note that it doesn't expect the event to affect its financial statements or cash position in the near term -- suggesting that the acquisition will not produce much profit, nor will it cost much, at least not immediately.

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Rich Smith

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