Monsanto sweetens Syngenta play with $2B break fee

New York | Reuters –– U.S. seed and ag chem firm Monsanto has offered to pay a US$2 billion reverse break-up fee to Syngenta if it can’t obtain global regulatory approvals for an acquisition, it said in a statement on Sunday.

The move, under which Monsanto would pay the fee if regulators reject the proposal, is the latest step in a bid by the world’s largest seed company to take over its Swiss rival. Syngenta had earlier rejected a US$45 billion offer, but St. Louis-based Monsanto has continued to pursue a deal.

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Most recently, Monsanto and its advisers were said to be working to accommodate Syngenta’s worries over regulatory hurdles, though a source close to Syngenta indicated a deal may not happen.

Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in the statement it’s “disappointing” Syngenta hasn’t engaged in substantive talks about the deal, but the company remains committed to “unlocking the opportunity of this combination” and pursuing discussions with Syngenta’s management and board.

A takeover would create a combined entity with control of more than 40 per cent of the U.S. seed market. Syngenta expects regulators to consider the combined group’s control in the broader agricultural inputs market, people with knowledge of the industry previously said.

Reporting for Reuters by Catherine Ngai in New York.

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