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Monsanto CEO remains confident Bayer deal will be approved

Monsanto is expected to keep a large operation in the St. Louis region after the Bayer buyout goes into effect.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
Outside Monsanto headquarters in St. Louis.

The head of St. Louis-based Monsanto says completing the $66 billion deal with Bayer is one of his company's main goals for 2017. Hugh Grant has also given analysts reasons why he thinks the takeover by the German company will be cleared by regulators. He spoke Wednesday during Monsanto's quarterly earnings call.

The deal will create a kind of global agribusiness superpower, combining Monsanto's seed technology with Bayer's crop protection expertise.

"With limited overlap in products and in geographies," Grant told analysts.

"Second, we have a long history of making our technologies widely accessible through licensing and open infrastructure. And Bayer has indicated that they are committed to continuing that practice."

Grant touched on the same factors when the proposed takeover was announced a few weeks ago. Now, it appears he is doubling-down on what both companies consider the strengths of the deal as Wall Street deals with concerns that the proposal will have problems going through the regulatory approval process.

The deal calls for Bayer to pay $128 a share for Monsanto. The St. Louis company has been trading at slightly above $100 a share in recent days.

During Wednesday's call, Grant stressed farmers would benefit from increased research and development and that will be the message during the expected anti-trust hearings into the takeover.

Hugh Grant, CEO, Monsanto
Credit Provided by Monsanto
Grant has been Monsanto President and Chief Executive Officer since 2003.

"I can't speculate on regulators of opine on how regulators are going to view this," Grand said.

"But I think it's a really unique combination and the focus in this will be driving the innovation curve. Producing better products, faster."

Monsanto issued its quarterly and end of fiscal year earnings before the call with analysts. Its net income for fiscal 2016 is around $1.3 billion, down roughly $1 billion from a year earlier. The drop is being attributed to international currency issues and a decline in agricultural productivity.

Monsanto is reported a fourth quarter loss of around $190 million, compared to a loss of around $495 million for the same period a year earlier.

Follow Wayne Pratt on Twitter: @wayneradio

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