German chemicals business BASF has agreed to buy its compatriot Bayer’s seed and herbicide assets for €5.9bn (US$7bn) ahead of Bayer’s merger with Monsanto, for which the company is attempting to secure regulatory clearance.
The asset package, which included Bayer’s LibertyLink seeds and Liberty herbicides, sold at a price more than two times higher than the original value of US$2.5bn given to them by Bayer, Reuters reported on 13 October.
“With this investment, we are seizing the opportunity to acquire highly attractive assets in key row crops and markets. It will be a strategic complement to BASF’s well-established and successful crop protection business as well as to our own activities in biotechnology,” BASF chair of the board Kurt Bock said in a statement on the same day.
The LibertyLink seeds, used in soya, canola and cotton farming, alongside the herbicides, had to be sold before the Bayer-Monsanto merger to satisfy regulators, among them the EU, as they compete with Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seeds and Roundup weed killer.
The spread of Roundup-resistant weeds had become an issue in North America, reported Reuters, and as Liberty herbicides were one of the few alternatives to Monsanto’s products, regulators have stated they wanted the assets divested.
The deal was conditional on Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto going through, a process that was experiencing some hurdles due to the EU launching an in-depth investigation into the deal in August as it felt the divestments offered by Bayer were not sufficient.
According to Reuters, BASF could also be looking at other assets, including vegetable seeds, that Bayer may be forced to divest before the merger.
The purchase marked a late-stage strategy shift for BASF, which had traditionally shown little interest in the seeds business, but such an approach had made them the only major agri products firm that could not offer a full range of crop protection and seeds services, Bloomberg reported ahead of the deal on 13 September.