Bayer-Monsanto Sweeten Deal

After Meeting with Trump, Bayer Commits to More Jobs in US

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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A meeting between President-elect Donald Trump and executives from Bayer AG and Monsanto led to the announcement of more research and development investment in the U.S. and maintaining of Monsanto's current job force.

OMAHA (DTN) -- With the Bayer AG-Monsanto Co. merger now pending before federal regulators, a spokesman for President-elect Donald Trump announced Tuesday that Bayer AG had made several commitments regarding that merger and investment in the U.S.

Sean Spicer, a spokesman for Trump, said in a daily morning press briefing that Bayer AG CEO Werner Baumann had committed to investing $8 billion in research and development in the U.S. Spicer also said Bayer had committed to maintaining 100% of Monsanto's 9,000-plus workforce in the U.S. and also would create at least 3,000 new jobs in genomics, robotics, satellite-imagery specialists, engineers and advance biotechnology, Spicer said.

At the same time, Spicer also said Monsanto's headquarters would remain in St. Louis.

Spicer made the statement that even though the acquisition details were public, the job details were new. "This new domestic expansion has not been broadcast anywhere previously and was not something that was in the works with Monsanto and Bayer previously," Spicer said. "The reason for this commitment and expansion is because of the president-elect's focus on creating a better business climate here in the United States."

In a statement Tuesday, Monsanto and Bayer AG noted Bayer's Baumann, along with Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant, "had a very productive meeting" when they met with Trump last week in New York to pitch their merger to the president-elect and his team.

"The driving force behind the Bayer-Monsanto combination is increasing and accelerating innovation to help growers around the world address challenges like climate change and food security," the companies stated. "This becomes increasingly important as we all work together to feed a growing population in a sustainable way."

Bayer and Monsanto stated they intend to spend $16 billion on research and development over the next six years, of which at least half of those funds will be in the U.S. "This is an investment in innovation and people that will create several thousand new high-tech, well-paying jobs after integration is complete, jobs that will keep America at the forefront of agricultural innovation and that serve U.S. farmers by delivering better products and services faster."

The Trump transition team, Monsanto and Bayer did not respond to questions about whether it was appropriate for the companies and Trump to directly negotiate about jobs while such a large merger is pending before multiple U.S. and European regulatory agencies. That point, however, struck a chord with National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson, who called on Trump to reject the notion that farmers benefit from mega-mergers in agriculture.

"Today's announcement that President-elect Trump's transition team has struck a deal with Bayer and Monsanto is deeply disturbing if it leads to an approval of the Bayer-Monsanto acquisition by the incoming Trump administration," Johnson said. "The touted benefits of these deals pale in comparison to the adverse effects family farmers and ranchers will face with continued mergers in the agriculture sector. Corporate consolidation in agriculture leads to less competition and choice in the marketplace and higher input costs for family farmers and ranchers."

The Trump meeting with the agribusiness giants came just a day after Iowa farmer and businessman Bruce Rastetter, a member of Trump's ag advisory team, had issued a statement calling on the new administration to oppose the three major seed-and-chemical mergers now before regulators.

Monsanto agreed to merge with Bayer AG last fall for a $57 billion deal that also includes taking over $9 billion in Monsanto's debt. The two companies combined have roughly $25.8 billion in sales.

When the merger was announced last September, officials from both companies stressed it was more about innovation than cost savings. Still, Bayer also noted at the time that once the transaction is completed and the two companies are combined, "synergies" over the next three years would lead to roughly $1.5 billion in savings.

A Monsanto spokeswoman last week also stated to DTN that the two companies had filed appropriate paperwork with the Federal Trade Commission, known as Hart Scott Rodino filings. Those filings have been made in the U.S., along with several filings in other jurisdictions. Monsanto and Bayer AG stated they anticipate submission of the required filing in the E.U. in the first calendar quarter of this year.

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Chris Clayton