Year in Brief: Amid cuts and consolidation, Monsanto OKs Bayer buyout

Monsanto ended the year with stockholders voting overwhelmingly for a takeover by German conglomerate Bayer SE, but the Creve Coeur-based seed maker had a tumultuous 2016 before arriving at that conclusion.

The year started on a down note, with the company announcing Jan. 6 that it would lay off 1,000 workers amid declining sales and other struggles. This followed news of 2,600 planned cuts in October 2015.

The Year in Brief offers a look at the business stories that were most important to Missouri in 2016, and that will continue to shape the state in 2017 and beyond.

In February, Swiss agrochemicals company Syngenta, which had rejected three separate takeover bids by Monsanto in 2015, announced that it had agreed to be purchased by ChemChina for $43 billion.

One month later, Monsanto shares on the New York Stock Exchange hit their lowest level of the year, $84.94, as the company cut its profit forecasts by 11 percent because of currency fluctuations and low crop prices.

That commodities slump drove consolidation across the agribusiness sector. Two months before Syngenta and ChemChina announced their deal, Dow and DuPont agreed to a $130 billion tie-up. Industry trends added to speculation of a potential Monsanto merger.

So as the company dealt with diminished royalties in India and lawsuits in the U.S., it also reportedly was navigating talks with Bayer and BASF, another German conglomerate, about being acquired.

Monsanto rejected earlier offers by Bayer before agreeing to a $66 billion deal in September.

The combined company will control more than a quarter of the world market for seeds and pesticides, and regulators have raised antitrust concerns. Others have questioned what the merger will mean for Monsanto jobs and investment in the St. Louis area, but Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said in October that the company’s “long-term commitment to St. Louis” has been central to its conversations with Bayer.

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