Monsanto, Syngenta continue 'war of words' over potential takeover

By Sara Wyant

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, June 24, 2015 -Monsanto's $45 billion offer to takeover Syngenta and form a new seed and chemical company based overseas is turning into a very public "war of words." Industry analysts expect the charges and counter-charges to only escalate over the coming weeks as Monsanto pursues the deal.

If Monsanto leaders have their way, Syngenta shareholders will accept their offer to buy the Swiss-based seed and chemical company, and "we can continue to drive the productivity of agriculture to meet an ever growing challenge of producing enough food for nine and a-half billion people," Monsanto President Brett Begemann said in a recent interview with Agri-Pulse. Farmers and their futures, he said, are central to Monsanto's strategy.

"It's going to take more innovation in agriculture and this is a deal that can help drive that innovation, at least from one company's perspective. And that's good for farmers, that's good for employees of both companies and I would argue it's really good for society if we can make this all happen." To listen to the full 15-minute interview, click here.

Lets Talk Food

                                                                                           

However, Syngenta Chairman Michel DeMare is pushing back against the potential deal, citing
-among other things - the problems in gaining the necessary regulatory approvals in several countries. On Tuesday, DeMare released a 12-minute YouTube video also made the case that the company is worth substantially more than $45 billion.

"Monsanto has endorsed our strategy and has clearly demonstrated that it has great value," DeMare said. "The only thing is, they're trying to buy it on the cheap. And this is the third time they are trying to do it in four years."  To see the full video, click here.

Earlier this month, Syngenta rejected Monsanto's most recent offer, which included a $2 billion breakup fee if the deal cannot overcome regulatory hurdles, and also released letters from Monsanto that detailed some of the firm's thoughts about combining the two agribusiness giants. For more background and the letters, click here.

 

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DeMare said that, from a practical standpoint, Monsanto's offer to combine the best seed trait and chemical portfolios held by the two companies while divesting any overlapping technology would be highly disruptive and potentially damaging.

"How can we on one side continue to market integrated offers to farmers while at same time starting to dismantle this integrated strategy across the world?” DeMare asked. "This will have huge commercial and organizational consequences and we really don't believe a break fee of $2 billion will even start to mitigate this impact."
But Begemann maintains that the proposed offer of 449 Swiss Francs per Syngenta share - representing a 31 percent premium compared to Syngenta's closing share price prior to the offer being made public - is "compelling." Begemann also argued that concerns about industry consolidation are overblown.

"Choices that are available to farmers today will remain. Seeds and traits would be sold, any overlapping chemistry will also be sold. So they'll maintain those choices. Our ability to leverage through data science and precision agriculture will allow us to create even more choices for farmers," Begemann said.

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