(Bloomberg) -- Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. were told by the European Commission to provide missing data about their proposed merger, threatening to delay the regulator’s probe into their plans to create the world’s biggest chemical company.
The EU suspended its Jan. 11 deadline last week, barely a month after it opened an in-depth investigation into the transaction, citing concerns that the combination may reduce competition for crop protection, seeds and some petrochemicals.
"This procedure in merger investigations is activated if the parties do not provide an important piece of information that the commission has requested," Ricardo Cardoso, a spokesman for the Brussels-based commission, said in an e-mail Friday. "Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is re-started and the deadline for the commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly."
Regulators twice stopped the clock on their review of Halliburton Co.’s bid to buy oil-services rival Baker Hughes Inc. earlier this year, saying they needed more information from the companies. The firms abandoned the deal in May after struggling to overcome antitrust concerns from the U.S., the EU and other regulators.
The EU’s move "does not change our timing expectations," Dow and DuPont representatives said in separate e-mails. DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said the company believed it could comply quickly to provide the documents.
The EU faces tight timelines for merger reviews and sometimes chooses to suspend the deadline to allow more time, especially in complicated deals that require large amounts of information to explain what is happening in a market. Many deals that have faced a "stop the clock" are ultimately approved.
The Dow-DuPont combination is the first of a trio of big agricultural products deals to face EU scrutiny. EU lawmakers and environmental campaigners have been calling on EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager to block Bayer AG’s bid for Monsanto Co. China National Chemical Corp. is yet to seek EU approval for its acquisition of Switzerland’s Syngenta AG.