US chemical giants DuPont and Dow Chemical reported strong fourth-quarter earnings but also confirmed that their planned merger to create the world’s largest crop protection and seeds company was not likely to close until the second quarter of this year, reported Chemical and Engineering News on 30 January.

The two companies were planning to complete their US$130bn union by March but an EU probe into whether the merger would reduce competition has been taking longer than expected.

Both companies supply GM seeds and crop protection products to the oils and fats industry.

EU anti-trust regulators have now given a 14 March deadline for a decision on the merger, a second delay following a 28 February deadline they had given in November (see Biotech News, OFI January 2017).

In a conference call with investors, DuPont CEO Edward Breen said both companies were working on a “remedy package” to satisfy European authorities, Chemical and Engineering News said.

For the 2016 fourth quarter ending 31 December, DuPont reported a net income of US$265M, exceeding analysts’ expectations. In the fourth quarter of 2015, the firm had a loss of US$253M. Sales decreased about 2% to US$5.2bn, the report said.

Dow reported a net income of US$1.1bn for fourth quarter 2016 before a US$1bn pretax charge for future asbestos-related costs and other items that turned that number into a US$33M loss, Chemical and Engineering News said. Dow’s net income for fourth quarter 2015 was also about US$1.1bin. Sales increased 14% from a year ago to US$13bn.

The merger to create DowDuPont Inc was first announced in December 2015 and would eventually see the new entity split into three, creating separate companies focused on agriculture, speciality products and materials science.