Monsanto could take lead role in agchem acquisitions: executives

Tue Nov 17, 2015 10:27pm EST
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By P.J. Huffstutter

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - Monsanto Co. executives are discussing whether they should acquire rivals, including top pesticide maker Syngenta AG, company executives said on Tuesday, as talk of consolidation continues in the global agrochemical industry.

"We've had conversations inside" about Syngenta and other agricultural companies, Monsanto President Brett Begemann said at an investor meeting at its headquarters in St. Louis.

Company executives were studying every possibility for consolidation in both the seed and agrochemical sectors.

Monsanto's chief executive, Hugh Grant, also speaking at the investor meeting on Tuesday, said the company is "best placed to be a leading consolidator or a leading partner in an industry that is changing."

The world's largest seed company abandoned a $45 billion bid for rival Syngenta in August and since then, nearly all of the major players in the farm chemicals and seeds business have been the subject of consolidation talk, amid a landscape of plummeting grain prices and farm income.

Last week, Syngenta rejected a $42 billion offer from state-owned China National Chemical Corp [CNNCC.UL], Bloomberg reported. Dupont Co, Dow Chemical Co. and BASF DE have also featured in reports of talks on mergers and acquisitions.

Monsanto's internal discussions, which have been going on since the company walked away from its latest bid for Syngenta, include weighing the benefits of bidding for rivals, Begemann said.

In particular, he said Monsanto is keeping a close eye on farm chemical product lines it could acquire if rivals merged their agricultural businesses -- such as Dow Chemical and Dupont -- and were forced to spin-off assets in order to meet regulatory approvals.   Continued...

Flowers grow in front of Swiss agrochemicals maker Syngenta's logo at the company's headquarters in Basel August 19, 2015.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann