June 6, 2017 / 4:36 PM / 2 months ago

Bayer cuts Covestro stake in transactions worth 2.5 billion euros

3 Min Read

The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the Bayer Healthcare subgroup production plant in Wuppertal, Germany February 24, 2014.Ina Fassbender/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bayer AG (BAYGn.DE) set out on Tuesday to reduce its stake in plastics and chemicals subsidiary Covestro (1COV.DE) further from 53.3 percent, part of a plan to sever ownership ties completely in the medium term.

Bayer said in a statement after the market close it was placing 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) of Covestro shares, 1 billion euros of convertible bonds and transferring a 4 percent stake, worth 530 million euros, into Bayer's retirement fund.

Bayer said it could not give the new size of its stake in Covestro until the terms of the bookbuilding transaction were settled but would still hold the majority of the voting rights as the votes of the shares going into the pension fund would be ascribed to Bayer.

The 2 billion euros in proceeds from the two open market placements will come in handy as Bayer raises debt and equity financing for its $66 billion takeover of Monsanto (MON.N), the biggest deal ever to be paid for in cash.

Bayer said it would deposit 8 million Covestro shares, a stake of close to 4 percent according to Thomson Reuters data, in Bayer's pension trust in the near future.

That stake in Covestro - a maker of transparent plastics and materials for insulation foams - would be worth about 530 million euros based on Tuesday's closing price, taking the combined value of the transactions to 2.53 billion euros.

Bayer said it would continue to fully consolidate the subsidiary in its financial statements following the transactions.

As part of the two market transactions with institutional investors, the German drugmaker said it had started placing 1 billion euros in Covestro shares in an accelerated bookbuilding procedure after Tuesday's market close.

Also after the close, Bayer offered 1 billion euros in bonds that are exchangeable into Covestro shares maturing in 2020.

Bayer, which floated Covestro in 2015, transferred a stake of about 5 percent in the business into its pension fund in April last year.

Bayer also placed 4 billion euros in mandatory convertible notes in November, part of a plan to raise $19 billion worth of equity capital for the Monsanto deal, which Bayer plans to wrap up by the end of 2017.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by David Clarke

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