ROCKVILLE, MD. (DTN) -- Any gear with the Monsanto logo will soon be a vintage keepsake.
Bayer has announced that it will finalize its acquisition of the St. Louis-based company on June 7 -- and it won't be taking Monsanto's name along for the ride.
"The company name is and will remain Bayer," Liam Condon, president of Bayer's Crop Science Division, told reporters during a press conference Monday. "Monsanto will no longer be a company name after this initial two-month period." In those two months, Bayer will complete the divestitures required by the U.S. Department of Justice and other global regulatory bodies.
In his comments, Condon acknowledged that Monsanto's controversial public image in both the U.S. and abroad played a role in that decision.
"We simply had a strong belief that the Bayer brand has a very strong, positive recognition simply based on brand audits that we've done worldwide, and this is something that we couldn't say about the Monsanto corporate brand," Condon said.
"For sure, just changing a brand name doesn't change a reputation overnight," he added, noting that the company will strive to regain public trust and acceptance. "Our success also depends on our ability to build trust, that is why we will aim to deepen our dialogue with society and the public, and we're committed to listening to our critics and working together to find common ground. Because we firmly believe agriculture is just too important to allow ideological differences to bring progress to a standstill."
Condon expects the "full integration" of the two companies and the divestiture process to take about two months. Until August, Bayer and Monsanto will still operate as standalone companies and competitors, he said.
"In that time period, Bayer and Monsanto will continue to operate as two separate entities," he said, adding that until then, Bayer "[doesn't] have access to confidential information on the side of Monsanto."
Farmer customers of both companies should not expect any changes to their service this year, Condon said.
"For the initial two-month period where we continue as standalone companies, basically nothing changes for Monsanto, for Monsanto customers and for Monsanto reps; for Bayer customers and Bayer reps, absolutely nothing changes," he said. "After we're allowed to integrate, initially I would also not expect any immediate short-term changes because again, we're placing huge emphasis on continuity for our customers."
The deal has been almost two years in the making, and Bayer had to shed most of its seed and trait portfolios to appease various regulatory authorities, such as the U.S. Department of Justice, which demanded a record amount of divestitures valued at $9 billion.
Most notably, Bayer is selling its cottonseed, canola seed and soybean seed portfolios, including Balance GT soybeans, and all its Liberty Link crops except rice. The company is also shedding its seed treatment portfolio, vegetable seeds and digital agriculture platforms. Most of these sales will go to BASF.
Condon said DOJ "spent really a tremendous amount of time and gone into a tremendous amount of detail" to ensure that the new Bayer company will not destroy market competition in the U.S.
"DOJ went basically out of its way to ensure that all competitive issues were addressed, vertical issues, horizontal issues, innovation issues, and ultimately to come up with a very comprehensive package that assures that competition remains extremely strong in the industry, and with that, that there will be no negative impact on pricing," he said.
Nonetheless, by its own calculations, Bayer will be an agricultural behemoth once its acquisition of Monsanto goes through. The company will be the largest distributor of seeds and chemicals worldwide, with combined sales valued at $23 billion in 2017, compared to $16.5 billion from ChemChina-Syngenta, $14.9 billion from Corteva, the newly formed agriculture division of DowDuPont, and $9.2 billion from BASF (with its new Bayer acquisitions accounted for).
See more details on Bayer's announcement of the June 7 acquisition here: www.live.bayer.com
Emily Unglesbee can be reached at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org
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