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Monsanto name is gone, but Bayer commits to jobs, research, ag innovation

Sign at the main entrance to the old Monsanto headquarters reads Bayer Crop Sciences as of August 21, 2018
Bill Greenblatt | UPI
St. Louis is officially the North American headquarters for Bayer's Crop Science Division as a result of the German company's acquisition of Monsanto.

The sign at Monsanto’s former headquarters now says Bayer.

This week, Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto officially got underway. While the $66-billion deal was completed in June, the companies had to clear some antitrust hurdles before they could integrate and get down to business.

The North American Crop Science Division of Bayer is now headquartered in St. Louis.

“I’ll be the first to tell you, there will be changes,” said Brett Begemann, a 35-year Monsanto veteran and newly named chief operating officer of the Crop Science Division of Bayer.

Those changes will be more subtle than the new signage according to Begemann and his new boss, Liam Condon, a member of the board of management of Bayer AG and president of the Crop Science Division, headquartered in Mannheim, Germany.

“We have spent a fortune, $66 billion, in acquiring Monsanto because of the people and technology here,” Condon said. “Bayer doesn’t have the people that Monsanto has in St. Louis, and we need these folks to help our farmers going forward.”

The original acquisition agreement between Bayer and Monsanto was struck in Sept. 2016, but integrating the companies took time, because of anti-trust requirements needed over multiple continents.

Condon explained that Bayer had to shed its entire seed-and-trait business to satisfy regulators. That meant that Bayer needed Monsanto more than ever to develop its agricultural-science and-technology business.

“We don’t have overlapping businesses,” said Condon. “Our combination is highly complementary, more so than we thought in beginning. Now, we’re going to look at how we can be more efficient with our customers.”

The complementary marriage of Monsanto’s seed-and-trait business and Bayer’s crop-protection research and products is also good news for employees. Without duplication or overlap of jobs, Condon doesn’t expect layoffs.

“Long term, we will have more jobs here as opposed to less,” said Condon. “Long term, and even in the short term, we will have new jobs coming here.

Condon said a research group from Bayer’s campus in North Carolina will be moved to St. Louis, and there will be other personnel shifts between St. Louis and Germany. Both Condon and Begemann said it was too early to discuss specific numbers.

The former Monsanto Creve Coeur and Chesterfield campuses will be known as the North American headquarters for the Crop Sciences Division of Bayer.

Customers of Monsanto and Bayer should expect the status quo for the upcoming season of seed and herbicide purchases, according to Begemann. He said as the companies integrate, they hope to make customer service a seamless transition for farmers.

“I’ve told our farmers, ‘You are going to be the winners,’ said Begemann, “'because this combination [of Monsanto and Bayer] is going to drive innovation.'”

As far as its impact on St. Louis, Condon and Begemann said both companies have been and will continue to be committed to the communities where they work and live.

“I think you’ll continue to see us being a very active participant in this community and continuing to build for the future and the growth we expect in the company,” Begemann said.

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