The German group's board will meet on Sept. 14 to ponder pulling the trigger on an unsolicited bid, German paper Rheinische Post reported on Sunday, citing sources at Bayer.
It is not the first time rumors of a hostile offer have surfaced, but the timing seems about right for the Germans to make their next move. Bayer is due to hold an investor conference on Sept. 20, providing it with the perfect stage to explain a new more direct tactic.
A Bayer spokesman declined to comment on the company's plans.
On the surface Bayer has little to lose from going straight to shareholders. Monsanto has rejected two offers, including the most recent $64 billion, or $125-per-share offer on July 19, and made little concession to encourage a new bid.
Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant is believed to want $67 billion to $69 billion, or $131 to $135 per share. That is at the upper limit of what analysts think the German bidder could pay and as such is unlikely to be met by the German group's conservative management.
By bypassing Monsanto's board Bayer might get away with adding a couple of dollars to its existing bid, enabling it to secure a few percent of its target's equity which it can leverage into final negotiations.
In fact it may have to add very little to its offer. The current bid was 16% above Monsanto's closing price of $107.44 on Friday. It was also 40% above Monsanto's undisturbed price of May 9, which in turn was before the target announced disappointing results in June. A 37% decline in third fiscal quarter net profit on a 9% decline in overall sales, including a 17% decline in sales of its key genetically modified soy bean, would have battered Monsanto's share price if it didn't have the support of Bayer's bid.
No matter what decision Bayer's board comes to, Monsanto's fate may either way be determined not by what happens next week, but the outcome of an announcement due a month from now.
Monsanto will release its fiscal fourth-quarter results on Oct. 5, and the signs aren't good. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 30 said U.S. farm net profit would likely be 11.5% lower in 2016, while spending is tipped to fall for the third straight year.
If Bayer's offer is already on the table, then disappointing results could spark a flood of shares into the bid. On the flip-side, a rebound in sales would reinvigorate Monsanto's obstinacy, and might just prompt Bayer to give up.
Either way the brief window between an unsolicited bid, if it comes, and Monsanto's fourth-quarter results might be the time to cash in.
Monsanto spokespeople could not be reached for comment.
Bayer shares traded Monday at €94.48 ($105.32), down €0.45, or less than 1%.