Monsanto is once again looking to bolster its agriculture business through deals with European chemical giants, according to multiple reports.
The St. Louis-based seed and pesticide producer last year made multiple bids to acquire Swiss rival Syngenta only to be rebuffed each time.
Amid a continued wave of consolidation in the industry, however, Reuters reported that Monsanto discussed a possible transaction with Bayer, while Bloomberg added this week that Monsanto also talked with fellow German company BASF.
Syngenta was long seen as a potential target for corporate inversion by Monsanto — a controversial practice that allows U.S. companies to incorporate in lower-tax nations. Officials with the Swiss company responded that the bid undervalued the company; it eventually agreed to a sale to China’s state-owned ChemChina.
Monsanto nonetheless hoped to pursue additional consolidation amid high industry inventories, lagging currencies and struggling commodity prices that hindered spending by farmers.
Reuters reported that the sale of Bayer’s crop science unit could fetch more than $30 billion. Bayer is second to Syngenta in the crop protection market and would fit with Monsanto’s seed business, the world’s largest.
Monsanto was also reportedly open to discussions about joint ventures with Bayer. The German company is not actively shopping its crop division, but further meetings are reportedly scheduled for next month.
Bloomberg, meanwhile, reported that BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, was Monsanto’s preferred merger target.
Their recent talks surrounded two crop science units — including a division focused on cotton production — and could also include either outright purchases or joint ventures.
By Andy Szal
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