June 10, 2015 / 9:47 PM / in 2 years

Monsanto tells Syngenta investors it wants more info to refine value

Agrochemicals maker Syngenta's logo is seen in front of the company's headquarters in Basel February 6, 2013. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

(Reuters) - Monsanto (MON.N) has ruled out raising its non-binding $45 billion offer for Swiss rival Syngenta SYNN.VX unless the target company gives it access to business data.

Monsanto is hosting meetings across Europe this week to woo Syngenta investors, and two Monsanto top executives said in one of these gatherings that only a due diligence assessment of Syngenta’s operations could tell whether there was room for a higher offer than the 449 Swiss francs per share proposed so far, a person with knowledge of the meeting said on Wednesday.

Syngenta confirmed it had not granted the suitor access to privileged business data.

“Monsanto is a competitor to many aspects of Syngenta’s business. It would be madness to let a company see Syngenta’s books without adequate assurance on the considerable regulatory risks, and with an offer price which is clearly unacceptable,” a spokesman said.

A Monsanto spokesperson said, ”based on public information, our proposal of 449 CHF per share represents full and compelling value for Syngenta. If Syngenta can provide us access to due diligence as to its strategic plans and other non-public information, and if that information shows results or synergy potential that exceeds what we and investors have assumed based on public information, we would consider that new information in order to refine our view on value.”

Separately, Monsanto executive Scott Partridge on National Public Radio on Tuesday said there was no going beyond the 43 percent premium the suitor was prepared to pay, when compared to the stock price before media reports of an approach emerged.

“We’re not preparing to make another bid. We believe the bid we’ve made is more than generous,” Partridge said.

Monsanto’s initial approach was rebuffed by Syngenta in May partly on the grounds that the deal would not get past antitrust regulators.

The U.S. agrochemicals firm said on Sunday it had offered to pay Syngenta $2 billion if the merger failed to get approval from regulators, but this was rejected as “wholly inadequate”.

The meetings with Syngenta shareholders being arranged by Monsanto are scheduled for this week in London, Zurich and other European cities, people familiar with the matter have said.

In a June 6 letter to Syngenta management published by Monsanto, the U.S. company’s Chief Executive Hugh Grant expressed “disappointment with the pace of progress” of exploratory talks.

The stock market has been dubious about the likelihood of a deal succeeding, with shares of Syngenta trading at 404.8 Swiss francs Wednesday, 10 percent below Monsanto’s 449 francs proposal.

Syngenta has been dismissive of Monsanto’s second approach which added the $2 billion regulatory break-up fee proposal to the original offer terms.

Reporting by Ruppert Pretterklieber, Oliver Hirt in Zurich and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt and Mike Stone in New York; Editing by Bernard Orr

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