Monsanto merger met by legislative opposition, hedge fund support

Sen. Dick Durbin and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant met Tuesday, and the Illinois senator told Grant he would try to change federal law to make it more difficult for companies to move tax liabilities overseas.

Durbin co-authored legislation named the “Stop Corporate Inversions Act,” which would return almost $34 billion to the treasury over the next decade from American companies that established headquarters overseas. The bill will also limit the ability of corporations to acquire smaller overseas companies and move their tax headquarters abroad.

A Monsanto spokeswoman said the Creve Coeur-based seed maker’s proposed merger with Swiss agribusiness Syngenta is not a tax-driven deal. Monsanto has offered to relocate its legal headquarters to the United Kingdom as part of the proposed $45 billion takeover. Monsanto would still keep operations in St. Louis area under such a deal, the company has said.

The proposed marriage of Monsanto and Syngenta recently got a vote of support from hedge fund Paulson & Co. The fund has been buying shares of Sygenta and may now be among the company’s 20 largest shareholders, according to reports.

Billionaire investor John Paulson has a reputation for using his hedge fund to play an important role in merger deal, but Syngenta Chairman Michel Demare has called Monsanto’s bid simplistic and unlikely to win the merger competition.

Read more from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Bloomberg

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