REFILE-UPDATE 6-Bayer clinches Monsanto with improved $66 billion bid

Thu Sep 15, 2016 6:04am EDT
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(Changes day of Potash/Agrium deal in paragraph 21 of SEPT 14 story to Monday from Tuesday)

* Bayer agrees $128 per share cash bid to buy Monsanto

* Deal includes a $2 billion break-up fee

* Bayer says expects deal to close by end-2017

By Greg Roumeliotis and Ludwig Burger

NEW YORK/FRANKFURT, Sept 14 (Reuters) - German drug and crop chemical maker Bayer clinched a $66 billion takeover of U.S. seeds company Monsanto on Wednesday, ending months of wrangling with a third sweetened offer that marks the largest all-cash deal on record.

The $128-a-share deal, up from Bayer's previous offer of $127.50 a share, has emerged as the signature deal in a consolidation race that has roiled the agribusiness sector in recent years, due to shifting weather patterns, intense competition in grain exports and a souring global farm economy.

"Bayer's competitors are merging, so not doing this deal would mean having a competitive disadvantage," said fund manager Markus Manns of Union Investment, one of Bayer's top 12 investors.

Grain prices are hovering near their lowest levels in years amid a global supply glut, and farm incomes have plunged.   Continued...