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Bayer close to buying GMO maker Monsanto for at least $66 billion: report

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Chemicals and healthcare group Bayer AG is poised to announce the acquisition of U.S. seeds company Monsanto Co on Wednesday for more than $66 billion, clinching the biggest deal of the year, people familiar with the matter said.

By accepting Bayer’s offer, the largest cash acquisition proposal on record, Monsanto is set to give the German company a shot at grabbing the top spot in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry, combining its crop science business with Monsanto’s strength in seeds. It will also set the stage for the deal to be closely scrutinized by antitrust regulators.

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The breakthrough in negotiations, which follows more than four months of talks, came after Bayer further improved on the sweetened offer of $127.50 per share in cash it disclosed last week, the people said.

However, the deal will still value Monsanto at less than $130 per share, which the company was previously hoping to fetch, the people added.

Once St. Louis, Missouri-based Monsanto’s board of directors approves the deal on Tuesday, Leverkusen-based Bayer’s supervisory board will meet on Wednesday to also authorize the transaction, with an announcement expected before the stock market opens in New York on Wednesday, some of the people said.

It is still possible the board of either company could decide to walk away from the deal at the last minute, the people cautioned.

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The sources asked not to be identified because the deliberations are confidential. Bayer and Monsanto declined to comment.

Monsanto’s shares ended 0.8 percent lower at $106.10 in New York on Tuesday amid uncertainty over whether any agreed deal will clear antitrust hurdles. The stock later climbed to $108.79 in after-hours trading. Bayer shares ended trading in Frankfurt down 0.3 percent at 93.3 euros.

Bayer said last week talks with Monsanto had advanced and that it was willing to offer $127.50 per share, up from $125 previously, valuing Monsanto at more than $65 billion, including debt.

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Sources told Reuters that topping up the price secured Bayer access to more privileged information on Monsanto’s business performance and paved the way for more detailed negotiations.

“Given recent updates on the Monsanto approach suggest a final conclusion may be close, we suspect (Bayer) will work hard to try and reach a final conclusion before the Meet Management event, if possible,” Jefferies Research analyst Jeffrey Wolford said in a research note before the news, referring to Bayer’s presentations day for analysts and investors in Cologne next Tuesday.

Bayer’s bid to combine its crop chemicals business, the world’s second-largest after Syngenta AG, with Monsanto’s industry leading seeds business, is the latest in a series of major consolidation moves in the agrochemical sector.

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U.S. chemicals giants Dow Chemical and DuPont have agreed to merge and spin off their respective seeds and crop chemicals operations into a major agribusiness.

Syngenta last year fought off unwanted suitor Monsanto, only to later agree to a takeover by ChemChina.

(Reporting by Arno Schuetze and Greg Roumeliotis; Additional reporting by Oliver Hirt in Zurich and Patricia Weiss and Ludwig Burger in Frankfurt; editing by Greg Mahlich and Andrew Hay)

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Stephen Colbert rips ‘idiot’ GOP senator for defending Trump’s unconstitutional self-dealing

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"Late Show" host Stephen Colbert returned from New Zealand for a new show that aired Monday evening.

"I have been as far from the insatiable black hole of news that is Donald Trump as you can get on this planet.

I've heard there have been some developments over the last 10 days that did not go well for Donnie,"

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[caption id="attachment_1555275" align="aligncenter" width="800"] ‘The Late Show’ graphic (screengrab)[/caption]

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Donald Trump is making a mockery of Marco Rubio — and the Florida senator is letting him

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Sen. Marco Rubio was once one of Donald Trump’s most formidable opponents; now, the Florida senator bends over backward to excuse the president’s corruption.

In 2016, Rubio and Trump sparred frequently on the Republican primary debate stage. Trump picked the uninspired nickname “Little Marco” for the senator, which didn’t seem to do much damage on its own, but Rubio never gained the momentum or strength that his backers hoped would prove to be strong enough to take down the reality TV candidate. As Rubio grew desperate, he launched one of his most memorable and pitiful attacks by stooping to his opponent’s level, implying that Trump had a small penis. It was more of an embarrassing moment for Rubio than anyone else, though Trump helped himself with a crude rejoinder.

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The faith of Fox News: How the network’s propaganda warps viewers’ sense of reality

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A longtime sticking point among Fox News employees is their insistent differentiation between its news division, where employees practice actual journalism, and its opinion division, where employees practice actual nativism, spew misinformation, and have been actively campaigning for Donald Trump’s re-election since 2016.  Inside the organization, they claim to believe that the news side is separate from the opinion side, and insist that the audience can tell the difference.

News anchor Shepard Smith once characterized comparing the two as “apples and teaspoons.”

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