Monday, June 11, 2018

"The Future of Venture Capital at Bayer-Monsanto: It’s Complicated"

Well, for starters they dropped the name Monsanto.
Flippancy aside, the combined companies have almost incomprehensible resources, from cash to knowledge to data to, well...just about anything that impacts on human nutrition. Definitely worth the time and trouble to keep a (wary) eye on the new Godzilla.

From AgFunder, June 6:
It’s official. The Bayer-Monsanto merger will finally close on Thursday. The new entity will keep the name Bayer and cast off the name Monsanto. 

Though the physical closure of the more than $60 billion transaction will take place on Thursday, June 6, US regulators require the two companies to continue to function as separate entities until Bayer’s seed division, along with a few other portfolios, can be sold to BASF, as announced in April. Thanks to European regulators, this transaction likely won’t close for another two months, Liam Condon, CEO of Bayer CropScience, told reporters on a call Monday. 

Until the divestments to BASF go through, Bayer is not legally allowed to gain access to Monsanto’s “confidential data,” as Condon described. Though Bayer will own Monsanto, it can’t look too deep under the hood just yet. 

What we know so far about the post-merger reality (and it’s not much) suggests that casting off Monsanto’s name may be more of a gesture than a literal representation of the new reality. Bayer announced a handful of top executives at the integrated Bayer three weeks ago, but on the media conference call, Condon said that further details are likely to be delayed a few more months. 

What About VC?
What does that mean for the future of venture capital investment at the integrated Bayer? Condon said that the structure of venture capital at the new entity is a “hotly-debated” topic internally. 

He lauded Monsanto’s venture arm, Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV), leaving open the possibility that a combined strategy of MGV’s more traditional VC investment tack with Bayer’s preference for grander schemes could be the result — while making no promises. 

“We’re very excited about what we see and what we know of Monsanto Growth Ventures. We think it’s a great model. We think it’s a model that is uniquely adapted to the need of venture capital in ag, which is a bit different than in other life science areas.”

He added that Bayer’s “Leap” program favoring larger investments via joint ventures like Joyn Bio, a $100 million JV with Ginkgo Bioworks, had been Bayer’s modus operandi to date, although it has made a few dispersed startup investments off its balance sheet.

“This is something that will continue,” said Condon of the “Leaps By Bayer” program.
“We believe that the Monsanto Growth Ventures approach is highly complementary to what we were doing, so we would be very excited to continue with that approach in the new company,” he continued....MUCH MORE