Monsanto shareholders overwhelmingly approved a US$66bn takeover by German chemicals giant Bayer AG, a deal that would create the world’s largest seeds and pesticides company.

Monsanto said on 13 December that preliminary results showed that 99% of all shareholder votes cast favoured the merger, announced on 14 September.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, Monsanto shareowners will receive US$128 per share in cash at the closing of the deal.

“We are pleased we received such strong support from our shareowners,” said Monsanto CEO and chairman Hugh Grant. “This is an important milestone as we work to combine our two complementary companies and deliver on our shared vision for the future of agriculture.”

“The acquisition of Monsanto is driven by our strong belief that this combination can help address the growing challenges facing farmers and the overall agriculture industry today and in the future,” said Bayer CEO Werner Baumann.

The merger is subject to conditions, including required regulatory approvals, and Monsanto said it expected the deal to close by the end of 2017.

A Bayer takeover of Monsanto will draw close scrutiny from anti-trust regulators due to the size of the combined company and the control it would have over the global seeds and pesticides market (see News, OFI September/October 2016).