Preliminary results showed that 99 per cent of all votes cast favoured the merger announced in September, St. Louis-based Monsanto said. Shareholders will receive $US128 per share in cash at the closing of the merger, which must still receive regulatory approval. Monsanto said the deal is expected to close by the end of 2017.
Monsanto shares rose 24 cents to $US104.83 in morning trading.
“This is an important milestone as we work to combine our two complementary companies and deliver on our shared vision for the future of agriculture,” Monsanto Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Hugh Grant said in a statement.
Bayer, the German medicine and farm-chemical maker, and Monsanto, maker of seeds, herbicides and pesticides among other agricultural products, have faced concern from some government and ag industry leaders who worry the merger will hurt farmers by reducing competition at a time when the agriculture economy has slowed.
The National Farmers Union has said the merger would mean that three companies would have more than 80 per cent of US corn seed sales and 70 per cent of the global pesticide market. Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said at a hearing in September that the wave of consolidations “has become a tsunami.”
Top officials for both companies say the merger will be a boost for farmers.
“By bringing together our expertise and our resources to drive this shared vision, we can do even more together to benefit growers around the world and to help address broad global challenges like climate change and food scarcity,” Grant said.
Werner Baumann, CEO of Bayer, said the acquisition of Monsanto “is driven by our strong belief that this combination can help address the growing challenges facing farmers and the overall agriculture industry today and in the future. Together, Bayer and Monsanto will be able to offer the new, innovative solutions that our customers need.”
The merger calls for Bayer to pay $US57 billion to Monsanto shareholders and assume $US9 billion in Monsanto debt.
Bayer sells crop protection chemicals used to kill weeds, insects and plant fungal diseases and also makes popular pharmaceutical products such as Bayer aspirin, Claritin allergy medicine and Alka Seltzer. Bayer also owns Dr. Scholl’s foot products and Coppertone sunscreen.
Monsanto sells seeds for fruits, vegetables, corn, soybeans, cotton and other crops, plus Roundup weed killer. The company is a leading producer of genetically modified seeds engineered to resist drought and herbicides, among other things. Protests against Monsanto by opponents of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are common.