BASF may buy Bayer's Vegetable Seeds
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann confirmed last week at the annual results press conference that Leverkusen group has agreed to sell another of its agrochemicals assets to win EU approval for its proposed $63.5 billion acquisition of US competitor Monsanto.
The business up for grabs, trading under the name Nunhems, was part of the package Bayer acquired with the purchase of Aventis CropScience and later expanded. According to sources cited by the news agency Reuters, the seeds assets – comprised of 1,200 varieties in 25 vegetable crops – are valued at around €1.5 billion, including debt.
Reuters’ sources also said that BASF is exclusively conducting due diligence on the activities -- which BASF has meanwhile confirmed. Some said that Bayer may also open its books to other companies.
In any case, BASF is regarded as the most likely buyer, as it already has struck a deal with its German competitor to acquire seeds and herbicide assets for €5.9 billion.
Last month, Reuters reported that Bayer had offered the EU to divest the business as a unit including its intellectual property rights, locations and production sites to a new entrant, at the same time, ruling out bids from private equity firms. Up to now, BASF has not had any significant presence in seeds.
Reuters’ sources said also that with the sale of the vegetable seeds portfolio, Bayer has satisfied all of the requirements for gaining EU approval of the mega deal, and that the green light is likely to come before the Apr.5 deadline. US approval is expected to take longer.
Not all will be happy when the Bayer-Monsanto deal clears European hurdles. In a poll conducted by environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Europe (FoE), 54% of respondents said they thought it very important or fairly important that the European Commission block it. This was more than three times the number who said blocking it would be unimportant, according to FoE.
Another survey, by YouGov in Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and the UK, showed that the merger gave 47% of EU citizens serious or very serious concerns, while 11% thought it offered potential.