Bayer Said to Win U.S. Antitrust Nod for Monsanto Next Week

(Bloomberg) -- Bayer AG is set to win U.S. antitrust approval for its $66 billion takeover of Monsanto Co. by next week, according to a person familiar with the matter, removing the last major regulatory hurdle to forming the world’s biggest seed and agricultural-chemicals company.

The companies and the Justice Department have negotiated a complex agreement that would resolve the government’s concerns that the merger as initially structured would harm competition, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter is confidential. The deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday following months of negotiations.

The German company’s agreement to buy Monsanto, announced two years ago, is one of several deals involving seed and crop-chemical firms around the world. Last year, U.S. and EU regulators approved Dow Chemical Co.’s merger with DuPont Co. and China National Chemical Corp.’s takeover of Syngenta AG. The wave of transactions is set to create three industry behemoths, sparking concern among some farmers about higher prices and less choice.

St. Louis-based Monsanto rose 0.9 percent to close at $126.50, the highest since July 2014.

Representatives for Bayer, Monsanto and the Justice Department declined to comment. The timing of the announcement was reported earlier by MLex. Bayer, which has received approval in most jurisdictions, expects to close "in the near future," Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann said Friday.

The agreement with the U.S. came together after Justice Department antitrust officials, led by Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, pressed for significant divestitures to remedy the competition problems from combining the two companies. The agreement with the government includes asset sales and other conditions, said the person.

Bayer initially agreed in October to sell seed and chemical businesses to BASF SE for 5.9 billion euros ($6.9 billion). The deal included the herbicide brand Liberty, cotton and soybean seeds, and seed-trait and breeding capabilities.

Then in April, Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer said it was selling more pieces of its agricultural business to BASF for as much as 1.7 billion euros to satisfy regulators. That deal covered Bayer’s vegetable-seeds business, other herbicides, research on wheat hybrids, and Bayer’s digital farming business.

The businesses Bayer is selling to its competitor had combined sales of 2.2 billion euros last year and employ about 4,300 people.

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