The US Justice Department has given the green light for German multinational Bayer to acquire Monsanto in a US$60bn-plus deal, following a series of divestments from both companies to allay anti-trust concerns. This is the latest nod of approval in the so-called “mega deal” which would make Bayer and Monsanto the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company. Following the planned acquisition, the new company would have a share of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market.
This is exactly what regulators have been concerned about and why both giants have gone about divesting parts of their businesses.
Bayer has offered up more concessions by selling some parts of its business to ease the passage such as the deal with German chemical company BASF, which has signed an agreement to acquire significant parts of Bayer’s seed and non-selective herbicide businesses.
And Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann has recently said in a statement that the company is “actively addressing observations expressed by antitrust authorities.”
“We have now also committed to divest our entire vegetable seed business. Certain additional business activities of Bayer and Monsanto may also be sold or out-licensed,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal claims that “people familiar with the matter” told them how the Justice Department had reached an agreement in principle with Bayer and Monsanto over recent days. However, there has yet to be an official announcement from the regulators or either company.
The approval from the US Justice Department closely follows Monsanto reporting disappointing sales and earnings for its fiscal second quarter as it sold less corn in the US.
The company has said that the results were partly due to the drop in planted acres in the US this season, as well as the impact of lower commodity prices in Brazil. However, shares of the world’s biggest seed company spiked following news of the Justice Department approval, closing yesterday (April 9) at US$125.15.
Plans for such major consolidation has sparked heavy opposition from environmentalists and some farming groups who are concerned about their market power.
However the Bayer-Monsanto tie-up is clearing regulatory hurdles, including earlier in March when the European Commission (EC) conditionally approved the acquisition – but it does come with conditions.
The EC says the merger is conditional on the divestiture of an extensive remedy package, which addresses the parties’ overlaps in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture.
The conditions cover in particular the divestment of certain Bayer businesses, including the global field crop seeds business such as canola, cotton, and soybean (with minor exceptions restricted to the Asia region), the R&D platform for hybrid wheat, the global vegetable seeds business, the global glufosinate ammonium business as well as certain glyphosate-based herbicides in Europe, predominantly for industrial use.
Also, Monsanto’s global business with the nematicide NemaStrike must be divested.
By Gaynor Selby
Source: Food Ingredients First
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