Syngenta Rebuffs Monsanto's Sweetened Takeover Bid

NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Seeds giant Monsanto (MON) is considering its next move after Swiss crop protection group Syngenta rebuffed a second takeover proposal that the St. Louis company had sweetened by injecting a $2 billion reverse breakup fee if any agreement collapses on regulatory grounds.

Monsanto amended its offer on Saturday, but left the value of the stock-and-cash bid unchanged at 449 Swiss francs per share ($479.44), or 41.7 billion Swiss francs ($44.3 billion) in total. Monsanto Chairman and CEO Hugh Grant said the companies' respective shareholders, customers and stakeholders appeared to like the takeover proposal and described Syngenta's lack of engagement as disappointing.

The $2 billion breakup fee was designed to "further demonstrate our commitment to this combination" and Monsanto's confidence that a fusion could clear regulatory hurdles, he said in a statement on Sunday.

But Syngenta said that aside from the breakup fee offer, the new proposal "represents the same inadequate price, same inadequate regulatory undertakings to close, same regulatory risks and same issues associated with dual headquarters' moves."

"As such, we have reiterated our prior rejection of Monsanto's proposal," Chairman Michel Demaré and CEO Mike Mack wrote in a letter to shareholders on Monday.

Monsanto has "glossed over" transaction risks, the executives claimed. They maintained that the St. Louis group's proposal of "a pre-agreed and pre-announced package of horizontal divestitures" won't cut it with regulators, who may view the enlarged group as a conglomerate and vet the combination accordingly.

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