Brazil presents another hurdle in Monsanto's bid for Syngenta
By Caroline Stauffer
SAO PAULO Aug 4 (Reuters) - Seed giant Monsanto Co.'s unwanted takeover bid with Switzerland's Syngenta AG would face strong resistance in Brazil should it go forward, farmers and lawyers said, a hurdle that could delay or force major concessions to the $45 billion deal.
Much of the public focus on the move has revolved around potential antitrust questions in the United States and the European Union, but challenges could also likely arise from emerging agricultural powers such as Brazil and China.
In particular Brazil, the second-largest market for Monsanto and Syngenta, is crucial to the future of both companies. As one of the few places in the world with land available to expand farming, Brazil is likely to surpass the United States as the world's top soybean producer in the coming years, while its tropical climate makes it an enormous pesticide consumer.
Brazil's regulator, Cade, could spend up to a year, the maximum time allowed, analyzing any potential deal, said Marcio de Carvalho Silveira Bueno, an antitrust lawyer at Sao Paulo-based TozziniFreire Advogados.
"Cade has seen big cases, but this would be one of the biggest without a doubt," he said.
The Brazil office of Syngenta, which is already showing signs of resisting the takeover, called the idea of resolving antitrust issues by selling the seed business and overlapping chemistry assets "far too simplistic" and said "divesting Syngenta's seeds business would dismantle our integrated strategy in emerging markets such as Brazil."
Monsanto spokeswoman Sara Miller said Monsanto expects "a thorough global regulatory process" but remains confident in its ability "to obtain all necessary global regulatory approvals." Farmers are the company's No. 1 priority, she said in an e-mail.
"It's impossible to know how far reaching the restrictions would be, but some kind of divestment or other kind of structural remedy will be solicited," said Antonio Garbelini Junior, partner and antitrust expert at Sao Paulo law firm Siqueira Castro. He noted that all parties affected by the merger would be heard by the regulator. Continuación...