Quad Cities-based Deere and Company plans to buy the Wirtgen Group, a German maker of road-construction equipment, for $5.2 billion.

It is, by far, the largest acquisition in Deere history. Deere spokesman Ken Golden says Wirtgen is the world leader in its industry, selling its products in more than 100 countries.

Golden says, “What this means, of course, is after the acquisition is complete, Deere will become the industry leader in global road construction.” Deere plans to keep the company’s five existing brands, management, employees and distribution network intact.

“It has a superb reputation, strong customer relationships and really demonstrated financial performance,” Golden says. “These are things that Deere was attracted to with this company and we’re gonna’ keep all that in place.” The companies plan to finalize the purchase by the end of the year. Deere’s largest purchase prior to this deal was 600-million dollars in 1999 for the Timberjack Company.

(Thanks to Lacy Scarmana, WVIK, Rock Island)