Monsanto Sues Syngenta / Syngenta buys AstraZeneca's Advanta / Syngenta to battle Monsanto over corn (13/5/2004)

unleash the dogs of war:
1.Monsanto Sues Syngenta
2.Syngenta buys AstraZeneca's Advanta seeds
3.Syngenta to battle Monsanto in biotech corn market

1.Monsanto Sues Syngenta Over Corn Patent
Associated Press, Thu, May. 13, 2004

ST. LOUIS - Monsanto Co. has accused Syngenta AG of patent infringement, looking to block the rival agribusiness giant from technology used in producing a popular genetically modified corn.

The federal lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Delaware, involves what St. Louis-based Monsanto called its "fundamental technique" used in producing glyphosate-tolerant plants, namely corn.

Glyphosate is a key ingredient in Roundup, the company's popular herbicide. Monsanto's Roundup sales have been under pressure since 2000, when the company lost U.S. patent protection for  glyphosate.

Such corn in question is genetically engineered to resist Roundup, meaning farmers could spray the herbicide without harming the corn plants.

 Switzerland-based Syngenta said earlier Wednesday that it had bought rights to some parts of the so-called GA21 technology from Bayer CropScience - a unit of drug-making Bayer AG - and plans to use and market that commodity in the United States.

Monsanto said it had not licensed Bayer CropScience to its "proprietary intellectual property" for use in corn. In filing suit, Monsanto wants a federal judge to permanently bar Syngenta from marketing GA21 corn, arguing that Syngenta's doing so would violate a Monsanto patent.

"The bottom line is Bayer did not have a license for the intellectual property owned by Monsanto, and Syngenta does not have a license either," Carl Casale, Monsanto's executive vice president, said in a statement earlier Wednesday.

Without specifying terms of its deal with Bayer CropScience, Syngenta said earlier Wednesday it would offer the technology in certain hybrids and through licenses with other seed companies.

"This transaction gives Syngenta fast-track entry into an important segment of the corn crop protection market," David Jones, Syngenta's chief of business development, said in a statement.

Messages left Wednesday night with Syngenta offices in Switzerland and the United States, seeking comment about the lawsuit, were not immediately returned.

The GA21 technology largely has been phased out in the marketplace, giving way to improved glyphosate-tolerant NK603, commercially available since 2001. Monsanto's NK603 is marketed as Roundup Ready Corn 2.

The lawsuit came just two days after Monsanto announced it was shelving plans to offer farmers its genetically modified spring wheat, which had drawn global opposition from food makers, environmentalists and consumers.

Monsanto cited economic factors in backing away from marketing that wheat including a 25 percent drop in U.S. and Canadian spring wheat acreage since 1997 and a lack of "widespread industry alignment" behind biotech wheat.

Monsanto Co., http://www.monsanto.com
Syngenta, http://www.syngenta.com

2.Syngenta buys AstraZeneca's Advanta seeds
By Haig Simonian
Financial Times, May 13 2004

AstraZeneca and Royal Cosun, its Dutch joint venture partner, have reached an agreement to sell their Advanta seeds business for [Euros]400m (£280m) plus a final net asset value adjustment.

Syngenta, the Swiss crop protection group, is buying Advanta with Fox Paine, an investment group that moved into seeds last year by buying the Seminis food and vegetable business.

The Swiss group is paying [Euros]239m for part of Advanta, the world's fifth-biggest seeds group. The purchase was one of two deals it announced yesterday that boost its US presence.

It has also agreed with Bayer of Germany to purchase, for an undisclosed sum, a genetic technology that improves the resistance of corn seeds.

The developments should reinforce Syngenta's position in the big US corn market and narrow the gap with Monsanto, a pioneer of genetically-modified crops.

Syngenta is buying Advanta's North American corn and soya bean business, while Fox Paine is spending [Euros]161m on the vendor's non- North American free trade agreement region activities, as well as some Nafta-area activities.

Analysts said the purchase price of almost 1.8 times sales was more expensive than some recent seeds transactions, but reflected higher profitability. The Advanta businesses Syngenta is buying had sales of [Euros]135m last year. Advanta was formed in 1996 as a joint venture between AstraZeneca, the Anglo-Swedish group, and two Dutch companies, Royal van der Have and Royal Cosun.

The business, put to auction some months ago, represented something of a completion for Syngenta, formed in 2001 from the spin-off and merger of Zeneca's agrochemicals business and the seeds and crop protection business of Novartis, the Swiss group.

Michael Pragnell, chief executive, said the Advanta deal would nearly doubleSyngenta's US market share in corn and soya bean to 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively. "We now have the critical mass to present a very sensible alternative to Monsanto," he said.

He said the Zeneca seed activities were not included at the time of Syngenta's creation, as that would only have added to the difficulties of an already extremely complex transaction.

Mr Pragnell said the deal entailed restructuring costs of about $30m (GBP17.8m). After diluting earnings in 2004 and 2005, the purchase should be earnings enhancing from 2006.

Syngenta expected the acquisitions to contribute about $45m in cost synergies within four years.

Syngenta needed a partner to avoid cartel problems. Syngenta and Advanta each  control more than 20 per cent of the European sugar beet market, potentially prompting concerns.

3.Syngenta to battle Monsanto in biotech corn market
Reuters, 05.12.04, 5:45 PM ET
http://www.forbes.com/markets/commodities/newswire/2004/05/12/rtr1369537.htm By Carey Gillam

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 12 (Reuters) - Syngenta said Wednesday that it planned to try to loosen Monsanto Co.'s grip on the biotech corn market, but Monsanto said the company has no legal right to enter the market.

The challenge comes two days after Monsanto said it was backing away from a biotech wheat program.

Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta, the world's biggest agrochemicals company, on Wednesday said it was acquiring the rights to a glyphosate-tolerance technology for treating corn from Bayer CropScience

"We are offering farmers new choices and new options, which is good forthe farmer's bottom line," said Syngenta spokesman Chris Novak.

The technology, known as GA21, is used by Monsanto in some of its Roundup Ready corn seed products. It makes the plants resistant to applications of weedkiller so farmers can more effectively control weeds in their fields.

After Monsanto's announcement on biotech wheat, Syngenta is now expected to be the first to introduce a genetically modified wheat into the market.

St. Louis-based Monsanto has said it is pinning much of its near-term growth on increasing sales of Roundup Ready and other biotech corn products. In 2003, there were 12 million acres of RR corn planted in the United States, according to Monsanto.

Syngenta said it planned to break Monsanto's monopoly on the market and would start selling GA21 in its branded corn hybrids and through seed company customers in 2005.

"Currently Monsanto holds 100 percent of the glyphosate-tolerant corn market, with products containing the GA21 event holding approximately 30-35 percent of the market," said Novak.

"With GA21, Syngenta will offer customers, including seed companies, a strong alternative choice in the herbicide-tolerant corn market."

Syngenta said a recent North Carolina federal district court decision affirmed Bayer's ownership rights to the  technology, and Bayer had been licensing Monsanto and Monsanto licensees to produce and sell GA21 for only a limited period of time.

But Monsanto said Wednesday that it holds a patent on the "fundamental technique" used in producing glyphosate-tolerant plants. Glyphosate is a key ingredient used in herbicides and was Monsanto's bread and butter for years through the company's Roundup herbicide until its patent on glyphosate expired in 1999.

"The bottom line is Bayer did not have a license for the intellectual property owned by Monsanto, and Syngenta does not have a license either," said Monsanto Executive Vice President Carl  Casale.

Monsanto also said it has been phasing out what it called the GA21(R) technology in favor of a glyphosate-tolerant event called "NK603."

Syngenta's acquisition of the Bayer technology was one in a series of deals announced Wednesday by Syngenta. The company is also buying part of Advanta BV's North American corn and soybean business seed company from AstraZeneca and Dutch sugar and foods group Royal Cosun.

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