WKIMEDIA, JANINE MORAESIn a deal that could create the world’s biggest agricultural and chemical company, Germany-based Bayer has initiated a multibillion dollar takeover of the St. Louis–headquartered Monsanto. After months of negotiations, the agribusiness giant, known for its development of transgenic crop plants, has accepted Bayer’s offer, in which it would acquire Monsanto for $128 per share.
Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s CEO, told The Los Angeles Times that the deal would reap the maximum benefit for the company’s shareholders. Bayer’s offer, he said, “represented the most compelling value for our shareholders, with the most certainty through the all-cash consideration.”
Falling prices and crop surpluses in the U.S. have driven farmers to buy less seed, herbicides, and pesticides, and might have motivated the deal. This state of agricultural affairs has some pundits responding negatively to the proposed takeover. “Bayer’s acquisition of ‘Frankenstein’ crop producer Monsanto could be a horror story for both Bayer and its customers: the farmers,” John Colley of Warwick Business School in the U.K. told BBC News. “The farmers will lose out as product ranges are rationalized and attempts are made to increase prices.”
The deal, which is valued at $66 billion, including debt, must be approved by Monsanto shareholders and regulators. Bayer has agreed to pay Monsanto a $2 billion breakup fee if the transaction fails to go through.
The new company’s agriculture business will continue to be based in St. Louis, according to The New York Times, while its crop science division will be moved to Germany.