Monsanto eyes Bayer's CropScience unit

US agrochemical giant Monsanto Co, is eyeing the crop science unit of Bayer AG, including a potential buyout worth more than $30 billion, Reuters reported, citing sources.

The move comes nearly a year after Switzerland's Syngenta AG rejected its takeover approaches, (See: Syngenta rejects fresh takeover approach by Monsanto) and later agreed to be acquired by ChemChina for $43 billion.

Monsanto executives met in Chicago recently to discuss the company's interest in Bayer's agricultural assets, which Monsanto believes have valuable synergies between its seed business and the crop protection assets of Bayer, the report said.

Potential options discussed were an outright purchase of the crop science unit or a joint venture or other type of partnership between the two companies.

Bayer has been holding the talks with Monsanto to probe its interest, but the German company currently has no plans to actively pursue a sale of its crop science division, the report added.

Bayer CropScience is one of the three major divisions of Germany's Bayer AGwith annual sales of €10.4 billion ($11.7 billion).

The unit products and services include making pesticides, nonagricultural pest control, seeds and plant biotechnology and genetic engineering of food.

Bayer CropScience has grown through acquisitions, including the 2002 purchase Aventis (now part of Sanofi) CropScience and merged it with its agrochemicals division and formed Bayer CropScience.

Belgian biotech company Plant Genetic Systems became part of Bayer through the Aventis acquisition. Bayer AG also in 2002 acquired the Dutch seed company Nunhems, which at the time was one of the world's top five seed companies.

Bayer claims that it invests around 10 per cent of its annual sales or around €850 million in CropScience R&D.

Monsanto is the world's largest seed company and a leading producer of genetically engineered seed and Roundup, a glyphosate-based herbicide.