Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto has gained U.S. antitrust approval as of Tuesday, overcoming the last major hurdle to the purchase, which was first announced in September 2016. While Bayer is still waiting for approval from Canada and Mexico, the company is now confident that the deal will close by the June 14 deadline, according to a recent statement.
The U.S. Justice Department's approval is contingent on the sale of $9 billion in Bayer assets to BASF, in order to avoid conflicts of interest. These sales, which were approved by the European Commission on Tuesday, include the Liberty herbicide brand and the company’s canola, soybean and vegetable seed businesses, which compete with current Monsanto products. This marks the largest divestiture in U.S. antitrust enforcement history, according to Makan Delrahim, who heads the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
The divestiture doesn't assuage all fears, however, especially considering the fact that this purchase is only the latest in a recent trend of consolidation in the agricultural industry: last year, a merger between Dow Chemical and DuPont and the purchase of Syngenta by China National Chemical were both approved.
“Once the deal is through, three global behemoths will dominate the world’s agriculture industry, a prospect that has left farmers worried about the possibility of higher prices and less choice,” Bloomberg reports.
"The DOJ’s weak divestment requirements will do nothing to stop Bayer-Monsanto from controlling more and more of our food system," Tiffany Finck-Haynes, senior food futures campaigner with Friends of the Earth, said in a statement. "This merger will damage the bargaining power of family farmers, prevent farmers from accessing diverse seed varieties, and allow seed prices to rise."
Bayer has until June 14 to complete its takeover of Monsanto. After this date, Monsanto could pull out of the deal and seek a higher price.
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