Syngenta tests investor support for Monsanto opposition

Tue Jun 23, 2015 7:51am EDT
 
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By Oliver Hirt and Ludwig Burger

ZURICH/ FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Syngenta will sound out shareholders in the coming days for their views on the Swiss crop chemicals maker's opposition to rival Monsanto's $45 billion takeover approach.

Any takeover offer needs to be at a fair price and provide a high degree of certainty that it will clear regulatory hurdles, Syngenta Chairman Michel Demare said on Tuesday, reaffirming the Swiss firm's opposition to Monsanto's current proposal.

Monsanto was trying to buy Syngenta "on the cheap" and the board had unanimously rejected the initial approach, Demare said, taking the unusual step of commenting in a video on the company's YouTube channel.

Demare said the Swiss group can boost profit margins on its own and that the U.S. seeds giant was underestimating regulators' concerns about a tie-up.

The company would consider sweetened bids but only if they offered more certainty and higher compensation if the deal fails, Demare added.

"Syngenta will be seeking feedback from our largest shareholders in the days ahead," a spokesman said in a written statement.

Swiss media reports have said there is growing discontent among shareholders about not being consulted sufficiently by Syngenta's management in the takeover tussle.

Basel-based Syngenta, the world's largest maker of crop chemicals, rebuffed an initial approach by Monsanto in May, partly on the grounds it did not address regulatory concerns.   Continued...

 
Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta's logo is seen in front of the headquarters in Basel  February 4, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann