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Business

Bayer ups its cash offer for Monsanto

The German pharmaceutical giant has sweetened its buyout deal for Monsanto, which turned down an earlier offer. Bayer has added three dollars more per share, and it has its cash ready if the massive deal is accepted.

Bayer raised its takeover offer for US-based agrochemical giant Monsanto on Thursday to $125 per share (112.52 euros), up from $122 dollars per share in its previous offer, for a deal that would be worth $65 billion altogether.

"Bayer is fully committed to pursuing this transaction," said CEO Werner Baumann. The merger would form the world's largest provider of pesticides and crop seeds and rank as the biggest takeover in German history.

Monsanto had rejected the first deal in May, which was worth a total of $62 billion. At the time, it called Bayer's offer "incomplete and inadequate," but said that it was open to more talks.

The two parties have held confidential talks in recent weeks, accoring to Bayer.

In a statement released on Thursday afternoon, Monsanto's board of directors reacted to Bayer's "revised, non-binding proposal" by saying it would review the proposal with its financial and legal advisors before offering any further comment.

An insider to the deal told news agency Reuters that the board of directors would be "jumping for joy" over the offer.

Comprehensive offer

Bayer emphasized that the new offer was firm, in the sense that it was not contingent on obtaining financing. The company has already obtained a credit agreement from a consortium of major banks.

The new offer represents a premium of 40 percent over Monsanto's closing share price on May 9, 2016, the reference date for Bayer's initial buyout offer.

Monsanto's share price hovered around $104 on Thursday.

Bayer also announced that it had set aside $1.5 billion in contingency funding to pay a "reverse anti-trust break fee" that could come due if US antitrust authorities do not fully approve a Bayer-Monsanto merger.

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Bayer assured that it has "comprehensively addressed" Monsanto's concerns and that it "is prepared to make certain commitments to regulators, if required, to complete the proposed acquisition."

The deal remains

controversial, especially among environmentalists,

who tend to be highly critical of Monsanto's products - especially its genetically modified seeds and its herbicides - as well as of its business practices.

nz/jtm (AFP, Reuters)

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