Bayer Could Drop Monsanto Name If Mega-Merger Gets Approval

Image courtesy of Jeanette E. Spaghetti

When you’re spending $66 billion on a merger to create the world’s largest seed company, it’s understandable that you’d probably want to keep your brand’s name on the resulting mega-corporation, especially when your betrothed comes saddled with a name like Monsanto.

To folks outside the agribusiness world, the Bayer brand is mostly associated with aspirin and other products found on drugstore shelves. Bloomberg, citing sources familiar with the matter, reports that the company may be worried about having the Bayer name sullied by the many negative associations with the Monsanto brand.

The change, which will likely take quite a bit of time to occur as the $66 billion faces regulatory scrutiny in the U.S. and countless other countries, would likely be initiated for fear that Bayer’s own reputation would be sullied by Monsanto’s past actions.

Monsanto was known for making the herbicide Agent Orange for use in the Vietnam War and tangling with environmental groups over genetically-modified crops, Bloomberg points out.

Of course, Bloomberg reports that Bayer is no stranger to controversy: long ago the company was involved in making a deadly gas used in concentration camps, and tussled with environmental activists over pesticides.

Analysts say, though, that the merger could be a way for Bayer to repair its own name and that of Monsanto.

The integration of Monsanto’s products with Bayer could be as simple as changing how products are marketed.

For example, analysts suggest that Monsanto’s seed corn and Roundup herbicide could be marketed under the Bayer CropScience name.

Executives for both companies appear to be open to changes once the companies are officially married. On a conference all last week Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant said he’s been flexible, “the key is less about the name and more about the products developed.”

Likewise, Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said the companies would work together to tackle “this image and reputation thing” by building trust with customers.

The Bayer-Monsanto deal will face its first bit of scrutiny today when the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will host a hearing on mergers in the agriculture industry.

Bayer Mulls Dropping Monsanto Name as Brand Headache Cure [Bloomberg]