Monsanto, rivals eye next step after Syngenta deal collapse

Wed Aug 26, 2015 8:08pm EDT
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By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monsanto Co (MON.N: Quote), having ditched an audacious $46 billion offer for Syngenta AG SYNN.VX, may downshift to a humbler strategy of beefing up its crop protection portfolio through other acquisitions, partnerships and licensing agreements.

The deal's collapse leaves Monsanto, Syngenta and other agrochemical sector companies facing a bleak landscape of plummeting grain prices and farm income. In the United States, farmers are tightening their budgets and cutting back on everything from equipment to seeds and pesticides.

On Wednesday, Monsanto said it was focused on its core businesses and plans to resume its two year, $10 billion share repurchase program, which was put on hold while it was bidding for Syngenta.

Monsanto declined to say anything more about its next move, including which companies might be the St. Louis-based firm's next target or how much it would be willing to spend.

Monsanto President Brett Begemann had previously told Reuters in an interview that a Syngenta deal was not its only option going forward.

"There are other alternatives," Begemann told Reuters last month.

Speaking at the same time, Michael Frank, vice-president of Monsanto's global commercial business, said Monsanto wanted to expand its portfolio of crop-protection chemicals and seed-treatment products, with Syngenta or without it.

"If we don't acquire Syngenta, we'll still be on Plan A. But there will be a substitute company," Frank said. "It won't be Syngenta. It will be somebody else, or somebodies else."   Continued...

Corn grows on a field in front of a plant of Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta in the nortern Swiss town of Stein July 23, 2015.     REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann