Swiss Chemicals Firm Rejects Monsanto Bid

A $45 billion offer for agrochemical firm Syngenta is brushed aside as ignoring the "future value potential" of a company with market-leading posit...
Katie Kuehner-HebertMay 8, 2015
Swiss Chemicals Firm Rejects Monsanto Bid

Swiss agrochemical maker Syngenta Friday rejected an unsolicited offer by Monsanto to buy the company, citing the price — 41.7 billion in Swiss francs ($45 billion) with roughly 45% in cash — “fundamentally undervalues Syngenta’s prospects and underestimates the significant execution risks, including regulatory and public scrutiny at multiple levels in many countries.”

“Syngenta is the world leader in crop protection, the number three in seeds, and the first company to introduce integrated solutions for growers,” Syngenta Chairman Michel Demaré said in a press release. “Monsanto’s proposal does not reflect the outstanding growth prospects of Syngenta’s integrated strategy and the significant future value potential of the company’s crop-focused innovation and market leading positions.”

Demaré conceded that the company’s valuation is currently affected by short term currency and commodity price movements, but contended that the business outlook is strong, with emerging markets accounting for more than 50% of Syngenta’s sales.

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“Our integrated strategy has been particularly successful in these markets, which in 2014 registered double-digit growth rates for the fifth consecutive year and which represent a major part of the future growth potential for our industry,” he added. “Recently launched new products are achieving rapid sales growth globally as growers demand the latest technologies, and we have a strong pipeline of innovative crop protection products in development, which have total peak sales potential of over $3 billion.”

Moreover, the company is on track to achieve the first $265 million of savings from its so-called “Accelerating Operational Leverage Program,” and it’s targeting savings of $1 billion in 2018.

Bloomberg said that Syngenta is leaving the door open for a better offer.

“The long-term outlook of Syngenta is good, so I can understand that they are asking for a higher premium,” Bank Vontobel analyst Patrick Rafaisz told Bloomberg. “These two companies have different corporate cultures. So it will be difficult to merge them without inefficiencies.”

Even so, Monsanto’s current offer, which values Syngenta at about 17 times its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, ranks as one of the industry’s more expensive deals, Bloomberg said. Large agrochemical transactions in the last decade have commanded a median multiple of about 12 times.

Monsanto’s shares were up 2.8% on the news by noon on Friday.