German chemicals company Bayer is likely to get a conditional green light from the EU antitrust authority for its US$62.5bn acquisition of global number one seeds company Monsanto.
The merger would create the world’s largest single seeds and pesticides player with more than a quarter share of the entire marketplace but was met with resistance from environmental and farmers’ groups, Reuters reported in an exclusive story on 28 February.
Bayer had already agreed to divest certain seed and herbicide assets worth US$5.9bn to its compatriot chemicals firm BASF, alongside with a possible exclusive license to its digital farming data.
Bayer had also said that its additional antitrust concessions would include selling its vegetable seeds business and, according to Reuters, French seeds producer Vilmorin had considered purchasing some of these assets.
“It will depend on the breakdown that will be made. If there are clever and targeted things to do, why not, but if it’s all-encompassing then clearly we don’t have the profile for it to be accepted by the authorities,” said Vilmorin CEO Daniel Jacquemond.
Bayer declined to comment on any developments but said it was continuing a “constructive dialogue” with the EU and that the regulatory process was had advanced further in Europe than in the USA.
However, the Bayer-Monsanto merger had drawn the ire of some farming industry and environmental groups, who were concerned about the dominating position the merged company would have in the market.
“Approving this merger would create the world’s biggest agribusiness company, potentially crushing competitors and establishing an unprecedented monopoly on lucrative farming data,” Adrian Bebb, food and agriculture campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said.
“Public opinion is against the merger, and farmers and consumers would have every right to be outraged by the European Commission giving it the green light,” he added.
The Commission was expected to make a decision on the merger ahead of the 5 April deadline, Reuters wrote.