Monsanto, the US seed and agrochemicals group known for its genetically modified crops, wants to switch its headquarters from the US to the UK as part of a complex merger deal designed to unlock tax savings for shareholders. The group, which was founded in St Louis, Missouri in 1901, is circling Swiss rival Syngenta with a so-called “corporate inversion” proposal that would involve setting up a new UK company. Such inversions have been closely associated with aggressive tax planning, although sources close to Monsanto claimed tax was not the company’s main motivation. Syngenta on Monday rejected the proposal — which it values at $45bn claiming Monsanto was offering “the same inadequate price” as it had done in an approach in April. Under the terms of Monsanto’s plan, investors in the Swiss company would end up with a holding of about 30% in the new company, with the US firm’s shareholders taking the rest.
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