Monsanto CEO Says Syngenta Deal Talks Have Been `Difficult'

  • Monsanto still sees deal as a 'significant' opportunity
  • Syngenta also said to be in talks with state-owned ChemChina

Monsanto Co. Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said the seed company’s engagement with Syngenta AG about a possible merger has been “difficult.”

There hasn’t been much progress, he said Wednesday on Monsanto’s first-quarter earnings call with analysts. The St. Louis-based company still sees a “significant” opportunity to be gained from merging with its Swiss rival, he said.

Hugh Grant
Hugh Grant
Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

“The belief that we had last April we still have: that there is a significant opportunity there for the integrated platform,” Grant said.

Speculation is mounting that Syngenta will strike its own deal following a merger agreement between Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. to create the world’s largest agriculture business. That agreement may trigger a wave of consolidation in the industry as competitors try to reposition themselves.

In August, Monsanto abandoned a $46.6 billion proposal to buy Syngenta, the world’s largest pesticide producer, after the Swiss company rejected the offer. Syngenta is in talks about being acquired by China National Chemical Corp., people with knowledge of the matter said last month.

In a newspaper interview last month, Syngenta Chairman Michel Demare said the Basel-based company is in “advanced, formal and intense negotiations” with its competitors. Asked specifically about talks with Monsanto and ChemChina, Demare said he is in contact with more companies and that “the whole industry is talking to each other.”

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