Monsanto and AHP call off merger

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The Independent Online
THE US pharmaceuticals company American Home Products and the chemicals and biotechnology group Monsanto stunned Wall Street yesterday by calling off their $34bn merger.

In a brief statement to the New York stock exchange the two companies said a merger would not have been in the best interests of shareholders.

This is the third mega-merger in the pharmaceuticals industry to have been called off this year. SmithKline Beecham scrapped plans to merge with AHP in January and announced instead that it intended to merge with Glaxo Wellcome. This deal was also abandoned.

The collapse of the AHP-Monsanto merger hit shares in both companies and led to renewed speculation that AHP might try to rekindle a deal with SmithKline Beecham.

But AHP said that it did not have another partner lined up and analysts cast doubt on whether SmithKline Beecham would be interested in reviving talks with the US company.

The merger of AHP and Monsanto was first unveiled in June. Although it would have resulted in Monsanto shareholders owning 35 per cent of the enlarged group, it would have had an equal number of seats on the board and Robert Shapiro, Monsanto's chairman, and John Stafford, AHP's chief executive, would have served as co-chairmen and co-chief executives.

AHP, based in Madison, New Jersey, makes pharmaceutical products, including Advil pain reliever, Robitussin cough syrup and prescription drugs. St Louis-based Monsanto's products include the artificial sweetener NutraSweet, agricultural products, and drugs, including the sleeping pill Ambien.

Rumours had swirled in financial markets earlier this month that the deal was in jeopardy.