The multinational chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer AG is said to be interested in purchasing the agriculture corporation Monsanto, according to Bloomberg News.
Multiple reports have also confirmed the BASF, a German chemical producer, is also showing interest in acquiring Monsanto, according to USA Today.
If Bayer were to acquire Monsanto, the deal would create the largest seed and farm chemicals company in the world. Monsanto stock rose sharply by nearly 10 percent on Thursday after news broke that Bayer and BASF have shown interest in acquiring the company.
Monsanto currently has a market value of roughly $43 billion, and Bayer is valued around $90 billion.
Monsanto attempted a merger with the Swiss agribusiness corporation Syngenta in 2015, but that deal failed to go through. Syngenta was later acquired by China National Chemical, which is owned by the Chinese government.
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. merged in December, which created a $130 billion company. These mergers have caused authorities around the world to investigate possible antitrust issues and other possible issues, but sources told Bloomberg this is less likely to happen with a Monsanto-Bayer merger because of the fact few of the companies’ products overlap.
“From the antitrust side, I don’t think there’ll be many issues,” Lutz Krafft, a senior adviser at consulting firm ChemAdvice GmbH who once worked at Bayer, told Bloomberg.
Monsanto has not been seeing the kind of revenue it would like to see in recent years, and the company saw a 13 percent decline in sales in the last quarter. Corn and soybean prices have fallen in recent years, which means there has been less demand for the farm chemicals and seeds Monsanto produces.
Bloomberg reported a deal with Bayer would mean Monsanto would not be solely tied to the changes in the agriculture markets, and it would also mean Bayer would have an elevated hand in the seed business. Bayer’s agribusiness division saw a 9 percent rise in sales last year.
Monsanto is a controversial company, largely thanks to its production of genetically modified seeds that are patented and only allowed to be used once. Monsanto has sued or threatened to sue farmers who have tried to use the seeds for more than one grow on many occasions.
Monsanto’s GMO seeds allow farmers to spray large quantities of its herbicide RoundUp without killing the plants. Some farmers have reported the product has been used so heavily over the years that weeds have actually become resistant to it, according to US News.
There have also been concerns around possible carcinogenic properties in RoundUp. The World Health Organization labeled RoundUp as a probable carcinogen in 2015, according to Scientific American. RoundUp is the world’s most commonly used herbicide, so this announcement worried many consumers and food growers.
Beyond weeds, there have also been many reports that Monsanto products meant to prevent pests have failed in many places after years of use, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Bayer has also been in the headlines recently for a controversy over its agriculture products. Bayer attempted to challenge an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ban on a chemical called flubendiamide, because Bayer produces an insecticide called Belt that contains the chemical, according to Bloomberg BNA. Bayer claimed the science does not show that the chemical is harmful to the environment, which is the reason the EPA gave for banning it.
The EPA had allowed Bayer to sell flubendiamide products as long as it would stop selling them if evidence arose that it could harm the environment. When the EPA learned the chemical may harm aquatic invertebrates, it instructed Bayer to remove products containing the chemical. Bayer is still working to resolve the issue.
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