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EU clears way for Bayer, Monsanto mega-merger

Agrichemical giant Bayer has won EU antitrust approval for its US$62.5 billion acquisition of Monsanto, Reuters reports, on condition that Bayer sells off substantial parts of its business. If the merger goes ahead, it would create a company with control of more than a quarter of the world’s seed and pesticides market.

“Our decision ensures that there will be effective competition and innovation in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture markets also after this merger,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. “In particular, we have made sure that the number of global players actively competing in these markets stays the same.”

She added that the Commission, which has received over a million petitions concerning the deal, had examined more than 2,000 different product markets and 2.7 million internal documents to produce a 1,285-page ruling.

Bayer has agreed to sell some of its herbicide and seeds businesses to rival BASF for US$5.9 billion and will also licence the company its digital farming portfolio.

The merger has also cleared its final regulatory hurdle in the US, the Wall Street Journal reported on 9 April.

China has given conditional approval to the deal, which has been approved in Brazil. It is currently being reviewed by Russian antitrust authorities and Australia has said it will not oppose the deal following a divestment commitment.

Bayer originally agreed to buy Monsanto in September 2016, the third of three mega-mergers in the agrichemical and seed industry.

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Amri