Bayer sweetens Monsanto bid as talks enter final stretch
By Ludwig Burger, Arno Schuetze and Greg Roumeliotis
FRANKFURT/NEW YORK (Reuters) - German pharmaceutical and crop chemicals manufacturer Bayer AG says talks with Monsanto Co have advanced and it is now willing to offer more than $65 billion, a 2 percent increase on its previous offer for the world's largest seeds company.
"Both sides are gradually nearing consensus," one person familiar with the matter said.
Monsanto has also agreed to open its books for Bayer to conduct due diligence checks on the company's business, two sources close to the matter said.
Bayer's previous offer was already the largest all-cash takeover bid on record with a deal with Monsanto aimed at giving the German company a shot at grabbing the top spot in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry, combining its crop science business with Monsanto's strength in seeds.
Bayer now says it is prepared to offer $127.50 per share in a negotiated deal, up from its previous offer of $125 per share.
But German daily newspaper Rheinische Post also reported late on Monday that an offer of $130 per share may be necessary to get a deal with Monsanto "in a swift and friendly way."
Bayer was still considering all options regarding Monsanto, including striking a friendly deal, making a hostile bid or pulling its offer, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters.
Bayer's shares were down 0.25 percent at 94 euros by 0934 GMT on Tuesday. Monsanto's shares last traded at $107.44 and analysts at brokerage Equinet said Bayer has now effectively capped its Monsanto bid. Continued...