German chemical producer BASF could be looking to make a late entry into the seeds business by making a bid for the assets its rival Bayer is divesting ahead of its Monsanto takeover.
BASF had historically paid little attention to the seeds market, but faced with the US$66bn creation of DowDuPont and Bayer’s planned acquisition of Monsanto at the same price, the German giant is now reconsidering its stance, according to a Bloomberg report on 13 September.
Acquiring Bayer’s package of canola, cotton and soyabean seed varieties and the Liberty herbicides, valued as high as US$5bn, would help Bayer dodge a scenario where it was the only major agricultural products company that could not offer farmers a full range of crop protection and seeds services, sources close to the matter told Bloomberg.
However, DowDuPont and Swiss pesticides and seeds firm Syngenta were reportedly also after Bayer’s assets and, according to some experts, they might have better chances at snatching the prize.
“[BASF’s] strict adherence to its 10% returns criteria for mergers and acquisitions and the potential presence of other bidders with deeper pockets – ChemChina among others – leave me a touch sceptical on whether a deal would actually go ahead,” said Sebastian Bray, an analyst at London-based Berenberg Bank, adding that it was not the first time BASF was rumoured to be considering potential agri acquisitions.
Bayer recently added soyabean assets to the package it is divesting to convince regulators that competition in the industry would not be hindered by its acquisition of Monsanto, announced in September 2016, which has nearly doubled the value of the divestments, which were estimated to value at US$2.5bn in March.