Pharmaceutical giant Bayer has launched a $62 billion bid for seed seller Monsanto in what some news reports say would be the largest-ever German takeover of a foreign company.

Bayer's all-cash offer is 37 percent higher than Monsanto's stock price before news broke about the possible deal.

"This transaction represents a compelling opportunity for Monsanto's shareholders," Bayer CEO Werner Baumann told reporters on a conference call Monday.

St. Louis-based Monsanto said in a statement that its board is reviewing the offer but will make no further comment until it has completed the review.

Many people might know Bayer best for its bottles of the old-school pain reliever Bayer aspirin on drugstore shelves. But the company is a German pharmaceutical and chemical powerhouse with 102,000 employees and $41 billion in revenue last year. Like Monsanto, it sells agricultural products such as seeds and pesticides. That's in addition to a plastics business, diagnostic imaging products, health products for animals and a biotech division.

If Bayer buys Monsanto, the world's largest producer of genetically modified crops, its reputation in Europe could take a hit since there has been strong resistance to the use of GMO crops in farming.

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