Germany’s Bayer in $62b bid to buy Monsanto

Munich, May 23 (IANS) Bayer, Germany-based life science company in health and agriculture has offered to buy Monsanto, the American seed multinational in an all-cash deal worth $62 billion.

If the offer goes through regulatory hurdles, it will create the largest integrated agriculture business in the world. According to a press release issued by Bayer from its head office in Leverkausen in Germany, the offer to buy has been made at $122 per share, which is 37 per cent higher than Monsanto’s closing price last week of $89.03.

Bayer’s CEO, Werner Baumann told CNN in an interview that both companies see a “strategic rationale” in coming together. He said both the companies stood for innovation in agriculture without which it would not be possible to feed the population in the world.

Monsanto, which in India has been selling its genetically modified BT Cotton seed through Mahyco, has been dogged with controversy from the very beginning when the seed was introduced over a decade ago. Recently, the central government had reduced the royalty charged by Monsanto on seeds and has further put hurdles in its way to sell them freely.

Baumann said that as the arable land in the world was coming down, it was only technology which would help produce more. GM foods, he said in the interview, was not the only way to produce more, but it had become indispensible, especially in countries like the United States.

The offer by Bayer was made on May 10, but revealed by the company on Monday before the US markets opened. Monsanto shares rose 5.6 per cent in early trade on New York Stock Exchange at over $107. Bayer fell over 3.5 percent in Germany with traders saying the company may have paid a higher price for Monsanto shares.

Bayer said in its release that the two companies coming together would reinforce Bayer’s position as a “global innovation-driven life science company.”

The release quoted Baumann as saying that together the companies “would draw on the collective expertise to build a leading agriculture player with exceptional innovation capabilities to the benefit of farmers, consumers, our employees and the communities in which we operate.”

This transaction is expected to bring together leading seeds & traits, crop protection, biologics, and digital farming platforms. “The combined business would benefit from Monsanto’s leadership in Seeds & Traits and Bayer’s broad crop protection product line across a comprehensive range,” the release said.

Perhaps in a bid to reach out to those opposed to Monsanto’s GM seeds, Bayer’s Liam Condon, member of Board of Management said it was “committed to enabling farmers to sustainably produce enough healthy, safe and affordable food capable of feeding the world’s growing population.”

Asked by CNN whether the giant buy-off would pass muster with the US anti-trust or anti-competitive regulatory authorities, CEO Baumann said that there was complementarity of portfolios among the two companies and that they would have to wait for the approvals.



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