Federal antitrust regulators have granted agribusiness giants Bayer and Monsanto permission to merge after the two companies agreed to spin off $9 billion worth of assets, the largest such sale of corporate assets ever required by the Justice Department.
Under the proposed settlement filed Tuesday, Bayer will sell its seed and herbicide businesses to a third party, the German chemical company BASF. It also will sell its emerging digital farming business as well as a variety of intellectual property and R&D projects.
The targeted spinoffs are aimed at preventing Bayer and Monsanto from using their combined control over seeds and seed treatments to raise the price of agricultural products to farmers and consumers, Justice Department officials said. Just six companies, including Bayer and Monsanto, have historically dominated the global trade in seeds and agrochemicals.
The $66 billion deal already has received approval from regulators in the European Union, Russia and Brazil, making the U.S. approval one of the last major hurdles. Bayer said it expects to complete the merger by midsummer.
“Receipt of the DOJ’s approval brings us close to our goal of creating a leading company in agriculture,” Bayer chief executive Werner Baumann said in a statement.
U.S. antitrust officials investigated the Bayer-Monsanto deal for more than a year, ultimately concluding that it could result in increased costs for the country’s agricultural sector.* during World War II Bayer manufactured Zyklon B. During Vietnam Monsanto manufactured Agent Orange.