Delta and Pine Land Co. announced that Roger D. Malkin, chairman and CEO of the company, has taken a reduced role and will become chairman emeritus of the company due to health-related issues.

Malkin, who built Scott, Miss.-based Delta and Pine Land into one of the largest cotton breeding and seed distributing companies in the world, will remain on the board of directors, the company said.

Vice Chairman Jon E.M. Jacoby will assume the role of chairman and F. Murray Robinson, who retired as president and chief operating officer of Delta and Pine Land in 1999, has been named chief executive officer and will join the board of directors as vice chairman.

Steven M. Hawkins of Scott, Miss., will continue to manage operations as president and chief operating officer of the company.

"Over the past 30 years, I've had the rare and gratifying opportunity to help build a great organization," said Malkin. "With the combination of leading technology, talented employees and a strong balance sheet, Delta and Pine Land is now stronger than it has been in the company's history, and I'm proud to have been a part of that effort."

Malkin said the company is better positioned both domestically and internationally than ever before. "While I regret having to reduce my role due to health reasons, I am honored by my appointment as chairman emeritus, and I look forward to continuing to serve as a member of the board.

"With Jon's and Murray's depth of knowledge and extensive experience and Steve's exceptional management skills, I am confident that the company will continue to reach its full potential."

"Roger has been instrumental in the development of Delta and Pine Land and has served the company extraordinarily well throughout his tenure as CEO," said Jacoby. "His strategic vision and long-term planning have been essential to the growth of the company, and we are pleased that he will remain a member of the board.

"We are also delighted that Murray will be returning to Delta and Pine Land, bringing his considerable experience to the company at such an important time. His broad background and vision will complement Steve's outstanding track record of operational leadership."

Robinson served as Delta and Pine Land's president and chief operating officer from 1988 until his retirement in 1999. From 1987 to 1988, Robinson directed the International Division of Agrigenetics Corp., an agribusiness company with various seed divisions and biotechnology plant operations. From 1986 to 1987, he was senior vice president and acting general manager of the company.

Delta and Pine Land also announced that net income for the year ending Aug. 31, 2000, excluding unusual items, was a record 90 cents per diluted share, an increase from 66 cents per diluted share for the comparable prior year.

Including the unusual items, annual net income was $1.98 per diluted share. The primary unusual item was the $81 million received from Monsanto after the two companies broke off negotiations for Monsanto to acquire Delta and Pine Land.

Net sales and licensing fees for the year increased to $301 million from $286 million in the prior year, the company said.

The strong results were attributable to Delta and Pine Land's international operations, which were profitable on an overall basis for the first time, and to an increase in transgenic cottonseed sales which comprised about 89 percent of total domestic unit sales in 2000, compared to 80 percent in 1999.

Unit sales of transgenic products that contain both herbicide-tolerance and insect-resistance genes increased 54 percent from 1999 to 2000.

The company reported a net loss for the fourth quarter, excluding unusual items, of 9 cents per diluted share, compared to net income of 8 cents per share in last year's fourth quarter.

Due to the seasonal nature of the seed business, Delta and Pine Land typically incurs losses in its first and fourth quarters.