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Syngenta chairman defends rejection of Monsanto offers

Updated at 12:30 pm June 24, 2015 with comments from Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant

The chief executive officer of St. Louis-based Monsanto says the company is still committed to putting together a deal to acquire a European agricultural chemical manufacturer.

Interest in Syngenta remains high, but Hugh Grant has told analysts on Wednesday that Monsanto is keeping options option in case a deal is not reached.

"This isn’t something we’re gonna turn into an epic struggle," he stated during the company's quarterly earnings conference call.

Our previous story from June 23, 2015:

The chairman of Syngenta is laying out the general terms for any possible acquisition by St. Louis-based Monsanto.

In a video posted to the Switzerland-based agricultural chemical producer's YouTube channel, Michel  Demaré  said a serious offer needs to be made at full and fair value. He added that Monsanto's $45 billion offers undervalue the company and do not provide enough compensation if a deal falls apart.

In documents provided earlier this month by Syngenta, Monsanto stated it would consider placing the headquarters of a combined company in the United Kingdom.

Demaré is not convinced that would be the best option.

"Shareholders today enjoy 100-percent of the benefits coming from the very competitive tax rates that we enjoy in Basil. So, I have a hard time to see how a U-K setup could be more competitive, especially for our shareholders," he said.

The idea by Monsanto follows a trend of U.S. companies moving their headquarters, at least on paper, to countries with a more favorable business tax climate.

In an interview this month on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show, Monsanto Vice President of Strategy Scott Partridge said operationally, the company is committed to being based in St. Louis.

"We’re committed to growing jobs in St. Louis. Whether there is a new domicile for the company that is a matter to be discussed, but that’s not what’s driving this deal."

(You can listen to the entire interview with Diane Rehm by clicking here)

Monsanto has been talking directly to Syngenta shareholders in Europe to convince them to support the most recent $45 billion offer.

Demaré has reiterated that figure is not high enough, but said the board would be open to reviewing any future offer from Monsanto or other companies.

Wayne Pratt is the Broadcast Operations Manager and former morning newscaster at St. Louis Public Radio.