Bayer Promises Trump $8 Billion for US Research?

18.01.2017 -

A second chemical-pharmaceuticals company may have won points toward US approval of its mega-merger plans by making promises of research spending and job creation to President-elect Donald Trump.

Ahead of Bayer’s planned $128 per share takeover of agribusiness giant Monsanto, the Trump transition team said Werner Baumann, Bayer CEO of the German life sciences and plastics group, has pledged to spend “billions of dollars” in R&D spending in the country as well as making a “significant commitment to create jobs” if the Monsanto deal receives regulatory approval.

Without revealing details, Bayer said last week it had had a “productive meeting” with the president-elect.

In a conference call with US media, Trump’s future press secretary, Sean Spicer, announced that  Bayer has committed to investing $8 billion, half of the company’s newly crafted $16 billion research budget for the next six years, in new US research and development activity. He said also that the group has pledged to retain 100% of Monsanto’s more than 9,000-strong US workforce, as well as adding 3,000 new US high-tech jobs.

"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 US farmers by delivering better products and services faster," US reports quoted a joint statement – not received by CMI or published on the companies’ websites – as saying. Monsanto shares rose on the news amid a stagnant market.

Since the deal was announced last summer, investors have been skeptical it would receive the necessary approvals. It will need European as well as US regulatory approval, but Bayer has not yet filed its plans with the EU. Targeted closing date is the end of this year. With the proposed Dow-DuPont and Syngenta-ChemChina mergers still on the agenda, antitrust authorities have their hands full, although Syngenta CEO Eric Fyrwald, said this week he expects a thumbs-up from the EU shortly.

In December of last year, Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical – another company striving for a mega-merger, with US rival DuPont – appeared on stage with the president-elect at a “post-election rally” in the state of Michigan and announced that the US chemical giant would build an innovation center at its Midland, Michigan, headquarters, creating 100 new R&D jobs and “repatriating” 100 others from other global locations. Liveris told the rally the decision to move 100 jobs back to the US was “because of this man and these policies.”

Observers in the US and Europe have expressed concern that Trump, who will not take office until Jan. 20, is getting ahead of the merger proceedings. Both the Bayer-Monsanto and the Dow-DuPont deal are being eyed critically, due to the impact they will have on competition in the agriculture sector.

Critics of Trump’s “hands-on” approach to the complex processes point out that neither of the deals in the spotlight have been approved by the federal government that Trump is preparing to lead, and that regulatory concerns remain, especially because the agriculture merger could reshape the world’s food supply. The journal Politico noted also that the president-elect does not yet have an agriculture secretary nominee to even consider whether the deals would help farmers and set policies on such mergers.