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.