Hugh Grant’s plan was simple. In order to stave off a takeover bid from German chemicals giant Bayer, the boss of U.S. seed producer Monsanto put it about earlier this month that his firm could acquire the agricultural chemistry division of BASF, another German rival.
But that theoretical plan was scotched yesterday when BASF chief executive Kurt Bock clearly rejected the speculation that his company planned to sell its ag-chem unit. “I believe we have already made it very clear that our crop protection business is not for sale,” he said.
This is an inauspicious signal for Mr. Grant, who opposes a takeover offer from Bayer. He has now lost his key leverage tool.
A Monsanto takeover by Bayer would be the third megadeal in agricultural chemistry in just a few months. It would follow the merger of U.S. firms Dow Chemical and Dupont, as well as the purchase of Swiss seed maker Syngenta by Chemchina.
At the beginning of July, Bayer, based in Leverkusen in western Germany, raised its offer from $122 to $125 per share, which would amount to a total price of $64 billion (€58 billion). Monsanto rejects this offer, calling it “financially inadequate,” and is holding out for an even higher price.