Monsanto in talks with Bayer, others about 'strategic options'

Wed Jun 29, 2016 1:23pm EDT
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By Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Monsanto Co is in talks with Bayer AG and other companies regarding "alternative strategic options," a month after it rejected the German company's $62-billion takeover offer, the U.S. seed producer said on Wednesday.

Monsanto's options include combinations with other companies and businesses in the sector beyond Bayer. Potential deals could involve BASF and any businesses divested from the Dow/DuPont merger, according to analysts.

Monsanto, which also reported lower-than-expected sales for the sixth straight quarter on Wednesday, had approached Bayer about a potential acquisition of its crop science unit, Reuters reported in March.

"Monsanto remains the partner of choice in this industry and I assure you that we will continue to actively explore these opportunities," Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said.

Monsanto said there was "no formal update on the Bayer proposal," but that talks have been ongoing for the past several weeks.

A Bayer spokesman said the company had no comment.

The seeds and agrochemicals industry, long dominated by six large companies, has been jolted by several large deals in the past year as low crop prices and belt-tightening by farmers pressured earnings. Syngenta agreed in February to be acquired by ChemChina for $43 billion, while Dow Chemical and DuPont struck a $130 billion mega merger last year.

Companies have also explored selling assets that may be underperforming or non-core to their businesses going forward.   Continued...

A Monsanto logo is pictured in the company headquarters in Morges, Switzerland, May 25, 2016.  REUTERS/Denis Balibouse