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Monsanto mulls deeper ties with Sinochem: report
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Global agribusiness Monsanto Co (MON.N) is in talks with Chinese chemicals conglomerate Sinochem Corp to deepen their ties significantly, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Citing people familiar with the discussions, the newspaper said the two companies have been in talks for months.
"It was unclear what form an agreement might take, though arrangements could include a large joint venture, the sale of a minority stake or Sinochem assuming a larger role marketing Monsanto products in China," the WSJ reported.
Monsanto, the world's largest seed company, was not immediately available to comment on the report, and the newspaper reported a Sinochem spokesman said he was not aware of the deal.
Monsanto has had a hybrid corn seed joint venture with Sinochem's National Seed since 2001, but executives from the St. Louis, Missouri-based company have complained that the Chinese government banned foreign companies from investing in the country's biotechnology sector, the newspaper said.
In February, China said it planned to breed its own high-yield seeds and set up large companies to ensure its food security for the coming decades.
That move was seen at the time as a blow to Western agricultural companies such as Monsanto and Dupont (DD.N), the chemicals giant that has taken a large share of China's corn seed market.
Deeper ties between Monsanto and Sinchem could indicate a growing acceptance in China of genetically modified (GMO) seeds, which Chinese scientists have said were not expected to be a priority for Beijing for at least five years.
China approved the use of genetically modified strains of rice and corn in late 2009, opening the door for commercial production as soon as next year.
(Reporting by Matt Daily in New York and Wayne Cole in Sydney; Editing by Ed Davies)
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