Wednesday 20 November 2019

Monsanto aims to lure Swiss company to table with €41bn bid

Syngenta is the world's largest maker of farming pesticides
Syngenta is the world's largest maker of farming pesticides

Mike Stone

US-based Monsanto sweetened its offer to buy Switzerland's Syngenta, valuing the company at around $47bn (€41bn) as it tries to lure the Swiss firm to the negotiating table, a person familiar with the matter said.

Monsanto, which wants to combine its world-leading seeds business with Syngenta's own seeds and pesticides, raised its offer to 470 Swiss francs (€438) per share from CHF 449 per share, the person said.

The increased offer, which sent Syngenta's shares jumping, is aimed at ending the stalemate between the two firms. Syngenta rejected a previous proposal in April and has refused to open its books to its rival. Monsanto's sweetened offer is primarily comprised of a rise in the cash portion of its cash and stock proposal, the person added.

Some top investors had been pushing Syngenta to at least sit down with Monsanto and seek a better offer. Cedric Lecamp, senior investment manager at Pictet Asset Management, the 17th-biggest investor in Syngenta, said earlier this year he thought a deal could get done above 500 Swiss francs.

A Sanford C Bernstein survey earlier this month of nearly 100 current and former Syngenta investors found that about 92pc were in favour of a negotiated deal, and would accept a 5pc higher offer from Monsanto. The average acceptable offer price among the investors was 473 Swiss francs, according to the report.

The new offer also includes an increase in the break-up fee to $3bn from $2bn if the transaction is blocked by regulators or falls apart for other reasons, the person said.

The offer is not necessarily Monsanto's best and final bid, and the door could be open to negotiations if Syngenta engages, according to the person.

A representative for Syngenta, the world's largest maker of farming pesticides said "there is no comment to make". A spokeswoman for Monsanto, the world's leading seed company, declined to comment. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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