ST. LOUIS (AP) — For decades, Monsanto Co. has been among St. Louis’ most generous companies, leaving some nonprofit organizations in the region to wonder what the future holds, now that the agricultural company has been purchased.
Bayer AG on Thursday completed its $63 billion purchase of Monsanto, a company that has donated nearly $10 million each year since 2000, and by its own estimates as much as a half-billion dollars into the St. Louis community since it was founded in 1901.
Al Mitchell, the executive who presides over the Monsanto Fund, expects the charitable commitment to continue. He told St. Louis Public Radio that investing in the St. Louis community was a topic of discussion in the earliest meetings with Bayer.
“In the initial meeting we had with the Bayer folks — their commitment was loud and clear that St. Louis is the hub for the crop science division so this is the HQ,” Mitchell said. “And as long as we are here, their plan is to continue to invest here.”
Bayer has two foundations, one based in Germany and one in the U.S.
Natalie Ross, vice president for external relations at the Council on Foundations based in Washington, D.C., said the Bayer and Monsanto foundations fund similar projects, from nutrition and science education to disaster relief. Bayer also has a history of supporting causes in the cities where they have offices and research facilities, she said.
“If they (Bayer) want to keep the Monsanto Foundation and align it with the core business, I think you could continue to see a focus in areas like food, nutrition and community development globally,” Ross said. “The biggest question will be the commitment to St. Louis as a place.”
St. Louis has been through this before. A decade ago, InBev purchased Anheuser-Busch, another company with a long history of charitable giving.
When Bayer acquired Schering, a smaller rival in the pharmaceutical business, in 2006, its Ernst Schering Foundation continued to exist with an endowment that funds arts and science-based projects.
Mitchell is optimistic about the future of the combined companies’ philanthropy.
“I think economically it’s going to be good for the region,” he said. “The name may change, but the impact is going to be even larger than when we were a single company.”