Monsanto open to alternatives as Bayer talks continue

by World Grain Staff
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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — Although he issued no formal update on potential takeover talks by Bayer, Hugh Grant, chairman and chief executive officer of Monsanto Co., said the companies’ continued constructive dialogue “could allow our joint teams to explore potential next steps.”

Grant’s comments were delivered as part of a presentation given June 29 in connection with the release of Monsanto’s third-quarter financial results.

In mid-May, Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer made public its proposal to acquire Monsanto for $62 billion, a deal that would combine two of the world’s largest companies in crop seeds and pesticides. Bayer said it disclosed the private proposal in response to market speculation and stakeholder inquiries. The proposal included an all-cash offer for all of the issued and outstanding shares of common stock of Monsanto for $122 per share. Monsanto responded to the proposal by saying Bayer’s offer was “incomplete and financially inadequate.”

In his remarks to analysts on June 29, Grant said Monsanto continues to believe in the value potential of the right combination.

“While any value discussion is more complex given the fact that the industry is running at a low point in the ag cycle, we recognize the potential value these types of combinations create as they accelerate innovation and increase choice for farmers across a broader set of crops, geographies and production practices, while improving the sustainability of agriculture around the world,” Grant said.

He acknowledged that while there is no assurance that the discussions with Bayer and others will lead to a transaction, it is clear that Monsanto remains “the partner of choice in this industry.”

“I assure you that we’ll continue to actively explore these opportunities and pursue value-enhancing strategic options,” he said.

“Our belief in the long-term opportunity is unchanged and our growth prospects beyond fiscal year 2016, with or without a deal, remain strong,” he said. “The global ag cycle is at a low point, and we’ve seen a series of recent economic and political challenges. These are huge events around the world that create instability. Today, however, we see potential for positive resolution on the horizon for some of these challenges, particularly for our Argentinian soybean business, for our Roundup Ready Xtend soybean blockbuster, and the recent announcement on reregistration of Glyphosate in Europe.

“As this tide turns, and turn it will, with the changes that we’ve made to our business we’ll be well positioned to strengthen our leadership role in the space with our financial discipline and our steadfast commitment to innovation.”

Net income at Monsanto in the third quarter ended May 31 totaled $717 million, equal to $1.64 per share on the common stock, down 37% from $1.141 billion, or $2.41 per share, in the same period a year ago. Net sales fell 9% to $4.189 billion from $4.579 billion.  
 
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