As Companies Combine

Pamela Smith
By  Pamela Smith , Crops Technology Editor
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German headquarters of Bayer's Crop Science Division, Image by Pamela Smith

All systems appear go for completion to Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto. At press time, the U.S. Department of Justice was indicating it would approve the union. The European Commission has conditionally approved the sale.

Liam Condon, Bayer crop science division president, says the company is hopeful for a second-quarter 2018 close on the acquisition.

German-based BASF will be the major benefactor of required antitrust remedies upon the Bayer/Monsanto completion. So far, Bayer has agreed to sell its global glufosinate-ammonium business and the related LibertyLink technology. That includes most of the company’s field crop seed businesses and research and development capabilities. The seed businesses being divested include the global cotton seed business (excluding India and South Africa), the oilseed rape/canola business in North America and Europe, and the soybean seed business.

Bayer has also agreed to sell its Nunhems vegetable seed business and several seed-treatment assets, including Poncho, VOTiVO and ILeVo. It keeps NemaStrike, a broad-spectrum nematicide Monsanto delayed launching in 2018. Bayer also plans to sell its digital-agriculture assets to BASF then license to use the products.

To satisfy European Commission concerns, BASF will divest one of its overlapping lines of research for the development of nonselective herbicides and a pipeline nematicidal seed treatment called Trunemco.

“This industry has always been fiercely competitive,” Condon says. He told The Progressive Farmer during an interview that antitrust regulators go into “excruciating detail” to make sure competition continues. Companies such as BASF and FMC will emerge as stronger competitors than in the past because of the Bayer/Monsanto and Dow/DuPont deals, he predicts.

Condon says often overlooked are the number of new technology start-ups and the amount of venture capital funding in areas such as gene editing. “I’m absolutely convinced this industry will be even more competitive going forward than it has been in the past,” he continues.

So what will the new Bayer/Monsanto culture look like? “We’ve been very specific internally that we want to build a new combined company culture,” Condon says.

He notes that both companies have strengths and weaknesses. “It won’t be Bayer just trying to ‘Bayer-ize’ Monsanto and, for sure, won’t be a reverse cultural takeover by Monsanto,” Condon adds.

“There’s an awful lot of attention going into getting this part right. How our people interact with customers is, in large part, determined by the culture of the company. We need to make sure to build on the combined strengths.”


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