Breakingviews

Bayer’s Monsanto bid flags conglomerate curse

May 23, 2016

The German group can only muster a $62 bln swoop on the U.S. seed maker because of its big healthcare arm. Without that, Bayer’s crop science unit would be prey not predator. The bidder’s management may see this as a perk of being diversified. For shareholders it’s the opposite.

BASF best leaving Monsanto seeds for the birds

May 19, 2016

Bayer’s bid for the U.S. seed maker puts its German rival on the spot. Monsanto and BASF work together on research and there are few other potential merger partners. Yet the maths of a $50 bln-plus counterbid would be a stretch. BASF has sat out other big deals; it can again.

Bayer would risk choking on Monsanto

May 12, 2016

The $94 bln German chemical giant may be mulling a bid for the U.S. seed maker. Monsanto, worth $39 bln, would need convincing. A deal pitched at a 30 pct premium is financially feasible, but Bayer would need to raise a lot of cash – and deal with clashing cultures.

Dow-DuPont deal would be tough nut for interlopers

March 7, 2016

German chemical giant BASF may be considering a counterbid for U.S. rival DuPont. The price would have to include a whopping premium – and cover a $1.9 bln break fee. The tax benefits alone could make the agreed-upon $130 bln union and spinoff with Dow Chemical close to ironclad.

ChemChina can reap rewards of new stance on GMOs

February 4, 2016

Buying Syngenta will thaw China’s hostility towards genetically modified organisms. Nationalist fears about food safety will ring hollow once the seeds are in Chinese hands. The buyer will be able to push into a huge new market – but so, in time, will rivals like Monsanto.

ChemChina’s Syngenta bid is prickly for Monsanto

February 2, 2016

The state-owned group is nearing a $42 bln deal for the Swiss seeds and pesticides group. The cash and friendly nature make it better than a similarly valued offer from Monsanto. The U.S. company could improve its bid or turn its attention to BASF. Neither M&A option looks easy.

Glencore can’t delay with $2 bln agri-sale

November 17, 2015

The debt-laden commodities trader is slimming down in agriculture. But two months into the disposal process, one potential buyer says he thinks the business is “not really on the market”. With copper prices hitting a fresh six-year low, Glencore can’t afford to drag its feet.

Syngenta CEO exit opens door to opportunists

October 21, 2015

Mike Mack will leave the $30 bln Swiss agrochemical company. Shareholders grumbled that the company fumbled a bid from Monsanto. New leadership may be more credible than Mack in cutting costs. Meanwhile, Syngenta looks more open to a bid or a breakup.

Monsanto leaves Syngenta facing awkward questions

August 26, 2015

The world’s largest seed maker has given up pursuit of its Swiss rival. The $46 bln deal required aggressive assumptions and carried risks. Syngenta’s management now needs to prove its reluctance to talk was worth it.

Monsanto heaps pressure on Syngenta

May 8, 2015

The U.S. seeds giant has made a $45 bln approach to the Swiss pesticide firm. The target rejected this as too cheap and too risky. Syngenta has a point: there will be major political and antitrust hurdles. But it needs to lay out just how it will create more value on its own.