from the gimme-an-aspirin dept.
German drugs and crop chemicals company Bayer has won over U.S. seeds firm Monsanto with an improved takeover offer of $66 billion including debt, ending months of wrangling after increasing its bid for a third time. The $128 a share deal announced on Wednesday, up from Bayer's previous offer of $127.50 a share, is the biggest of the year so far and the largest cash bid on record.
The transaction will create a company commanding more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides in a fast-consolidating farm supplies industry. However, competition authorities are likely to scrutinize the tie-up closely, and some of Bayer's own shareholders have been critical of a takeover plan which they say is too expensive and risks neglecting the company's pharmaceutical business.
"Bayer's competitors are merging, so not doing this deal would mean having a competitive disadvantage," said Markus Manns, a fund manager at Union Investment, one of Bayer's top 12 investors, according to ThomsonReuters data.
These days Monsanto is shorthand for, as NPR's Dan Charles has put it, "lots of things that some people love to hate": Genetically modified crops, which Monsanto invented. Seed patents, which Monsanto has fought to defend. Herbicides such as Monsanto's Roundup, which protesters have sharply criticized for its possible health risks. Big agriculture in general, of which Monsanto was the reviled figurehead.
And soon Monsanto will be no more. Bayer, the German pharmaceutical giant and pesticide powerhouse, announced in 2016 it would be buying Monsanto in an all-cash deal for more than $60 billion. Now, as the merger approaches, Bayer has confirmed what many suspected: In the merger, the politically charged name "Monsanto" will be disappearing. The combined company will be known simply as Bayer, while product names will remain the same. The move is not exactly a surprise — it makes sense that Bayer might want to weed out some of the intense negative associations associated with the Monsanto brand. In a way, it's an indication of how successful anti-Monsanto protesters have been in shaping public perception.
In the company's latest statement, Bayer implicitly acknowledged how hostile debates over genetically modified crops and other agricultural products have become. "We aim to deepen our dialogue with society. We will listen to our critics and work together where we find common ground," the chairman of Bayer's board of management, Werner Baumann, said in the statement. "Agriculture is too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill. We have to talk to each other. We need to listen to each other. It's the only way to build bridges."
Also at Reuters.
Roundup: Monsanto Ordered to Pay $93M to Small Town for Poisoning Citizens
RoundUp Glyphosate Found to Cause Kidney Failure and Elude Tests
Cancer Hazard vs. Risk - Glyphosate
Use of Dicamba-Resistant Monsanto Crops Leads to Soybean Death
GMO Grass That 'Escaped' Defies Eradication, Divides Grass Seed Industry
Glyphosate Linked to Liver Damage