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German chemical giant in talks to buy Monsanto

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German pharmaceuticals giant Bayer and the US group Monsanto said Thursday they are in talks on a possible merger to create a global player in pesticides, seeds and genetically modified crops, following weeks of speculation about a possible tie-up.

Both sides have emphasised that the talks are still only exploratory at this stage and neither has mentioned how much any proposed deal would be worth.

But with Monsanto’s market value estimated at around $42 billion (€37.5 billion), observers say it would be bigger than the recent acquisition of Switzerland’s Syngenta by China National Chemical Corp.

“There is no assurance that any transaction will be entered into or consummated, or on what terms,” Monsanto said, while Bayer insisted the talks were still only “preliminary” and “a further statement will be made as appropriate.”

A combination would create a new giant in the seeds and pesticides sectors.

Monsanto, which employs about 20,000 workers, is a major manufacturer of agricultural seeds and herbicides and describes itself as one of the world’s leading biotechnology companies.

The US group has been in the headlines in Europe recently over the weedkiller glyphosate, which it markets under the name Roundup, and is suspected of causing cancer in humans and posing a serious risk to biodiversity.

 

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