Business

Bayer 'closes in' on $66bn deal to take over Monsanto

Sweet corn Image copyright AFP
Image caption Yummy, though possibly genetically modified

A deal by German drugs and chemicals giant Bayer to take over US seeds company Monsanto is imminent, media reports suggest.

The takeover would follow several months of talks and is thought to value Monsanto at more than $66bn (£50bn).

According to German media, Bayer has increased its offer to $129 per share while the Reuters news agency says the deal will be announced Wednesday.

The takeover would create the world's biggest seeds and pesticides company.

Combining Bayer and Monsanto would make it the market leader in the US, Europe and Asia.

Bayer's farm business produces seeds as well as chemicals to combat weeds and insects, but it is better known for its healthcare products such as Aspirin and Alka-Seltzer.

Monsanto is primarily known for its genetically modified seeds for crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, wheat and sugar cane. Such seeds have attracted criticism from some environmental activists.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Bayer has put in many long nights working on the takeover

Largest cash deal ever

On 5 September, Bayer made its latest increased offer of $127.50 per share. Monsanto rejected this, but said it was engaged in "constructive negotiations" with Bayer.

The latest $66bn offer - which would be the largest cash acquisition on record - comes amid a wave of mergers in the agriculture sector.

Rivals including Dow Chemical, DuPont and Syngenta have all announced tie-ups recently, although some have yet to be cleared by regulators.

The drop in commodity prices has put pressure on companies such as Monsanto, with farmers' cutting orders for supplies.

A Bayer takeover of Monsanto is likely to draw close scrutiny from anti-trust regulators because of the sheer size of the combined company and the control it would have over the global seeds and sprays markets.

Farming groups have raised concerns that such mergers could lead to fewer choices and higher prices while opponents of genetically modified food in Europe worry about Monsanto's influence on the continent.

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