German chemicals firm Bayer has received approval from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) for its planned US$62.5bn takeover deal of agrichem company Monsanto, clearing one of its last major regulatory hurdles.
As part of the agreement with the DOJ, Bayer would sell roughly US$9bn worth of assets, which DOJ Antitrust Division head Makan Delrahim called the “largest divestiture ever required by the USA,” wrote Reuters on 29 May.
A spokesman from Bayer told Reuters the company’s planned sale of businesses worth US$2.2bn to its compatriot BASF was not “materially different” from what the DOJ demanded.
The US approval had been delayed for several months but, in April, Bayer said it had reached an agreement in principle with the DOJ.
Bayer has committed to selling its entire cotton, canola, soyabean and vegetable seeds businesses and digital farming business, alongside its Liberty herbicides that compete with Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide.
The firm said it would begin the integration process with Monsanto as soon as the asset sale to BASF was complete, which Bayer projected would take two months.
Monsanto could withdraw from the merger and seek a higher price if Bayer did not close the deal by 14 June, Reuters said.
The Bayer-Monsanto merger has already secured approvals from several key regions, including Brazil, China, the EU and Russia, and is still waiting for a go-ahead from Canada and Mexico.
Earlier in May, Bayer said the synergies it expected to make from the Monsanto merger would be around US$300M lower than what it had earlier anticipated due to it having to divest more businesses than initially expected to secure regulatory approval.
Bayer CEO Werner Baumann nonetheless said he believed in the merger.
“I’m convinced that this acquisition has very great potential for creating value for our company, our stockholders and our customers,” Baumann said on 25 May.