The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is set to approve the US$62.5bn merger of German chemicals firm Bayer and US agrichemicals company Monsanto, according to reports from Reuters and Wall Street Journal.
The DOJ, Bayer and Monsanto had recently reached an agreement in principle after the firms agreed to sell off additional assets, the news agencies said on 9 April.
Quoting unnamed sources close to the matter, the reports said Bayer had agreed to divest further seed and treatment assets to German chemicals firm BASF and to make concessions related to digital agriculture.
But Markus Mayer, analyst at Baader Helvea, told Reuters that he did not expect the concessions granted to the US DOJ to diverge much from those Bayer and Monsanto had already agreed on with the EU.
The news of DOJ’s impending approval also drew criticism from environmental and farming groups, who were afraid that the post-merger company, which would control more than a quarter of the global seed and pesticide markets, would have a disproportionate influence on market powers.
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of advocacy group Food & Water Watch, said the deal would reduce competition in seeds and chemicals sales and raise the risk of price gouging.
“The DOJ’s paltry divestment approach does little to address the extreme control the merged firm will have over farmers’ data, genetics, biotechnology traits or the associated agrichemical industry,” she said.
Bayer had declined to comment on the matter but said it expected the merger to close in the second quarter of 2018, Reuters said.
The Bayer-Monsanto merger has been approved by Australia, Brazil, China and the EU, while the Russian antitrust authorities have delayed their decision by six months, prompting Bayer and Monsanto to sue.