BY Richard Summerfield
German pharmaceutical and chemical powerhouse Bayer AG has launched a $62bn all cash takeover bid for US seeds firm Monsanto Co. A merger between the two would create a “global agriculture leader”, Bayer announced in a statement.
According to Bayer, the $122 per share cash offer for Monsanto represents a 37 percent premium over the company’s closing price on 9 May, the day before rumours of Bayer’s interest in the firm emerged. Under the terms of the proposal, the deal would be funded by a combination of debt and equity, with about 25 percent of the enterprise value coming from selling shares to existing investors.
However, the likelihood of the offer being accepted by Monsanto’s shareholders remains unknown. Last week, a Monsanto shareholder was keen to dismiss Bayer’s interest in a deal as nothing more than "arrogant empire-building".
In the statement announcing its interest in the firm, Bayer’s chief executive Werner Baumman said, “We have long respected Monsanto’s business and share their vision to create an integrated business that we believe is capable of generating substantial value for both companies’ shareholders. Together we would draw on the collective expertise of both companies to build a leading agriculture player with exceptional innovation capabilities to the benefit of farmers, consumers, our employees and the communities in which we operate.”
According to Bayer, a deal for Monsanto would add to core earnings per share by a mid-single-digit percentage in the first full year after completion of the transaction. It would also provide a double-digit percentage moving forward. The company’s earnings would also be bolstered by savings of about $1.5bn from the fourth year following the deal.
Should the deal win the approval of Monsanto’s shareholders it would be the biggest corporate takeover ever completed by a German firm and a clear signal of intent from Mr Baumann, who has been Bayer’s CEO for less than a month. Furthermore, the transaction would be a departure for Monsanto, which has been a keen acquirer itself of late. In August 2015, the company was forced to abandon a $43.7bn bid for Swiss pesticide manufacturer Syngenta AG when the firm refused to agree to a deal.
Syngenta was subsequently acquired by China National Chemical Corp for around $43bn. DuPont Co and Dow Chemical Co have also recently announced plans to merge and then carve out a new crop-science unit in another transaction in the fast moving crop and seed industry.