Bayer started the clock for EU approval of its $66bn takeover of US-seed and chemical Monsanto, the largest acquisition in German corporate history.

The combination is the final of a trio of mega-deals in the agrichemicals sector announced since December 2015, which have attracted substantial political scrutiny and public criticism.

The other two deals are Dow Chemical’s $130bn merger with DuPont and ChemChina’s $44bn takeover of Switzerland’s Syngenta. Together the three deals would bring the global industry down from six to four companies and transform Bayer into the world’s biggest supplier of agricultural pesticides and seeds.

European regulators will have until August 7 to decide to approve the merger or examine it with a more in-depth probe.

Bloc competition officials conducted in-depth reviews, or so-called phase 2 investigation, of both other agri mergers, and in both cases required the companies to sell significant assets to gain approval.

The Dow/Dupont merger was approved in March after the company agreed to sell Dupont’s research department to assuage concerns the deal would cut innovation in crop protection chemicals. Brussels cleared the ChemChina/Syngenta deal – China’s largest cross-border acquisition -in April after the Chinese company committed to sell parts of its European business to mitigate regulator competition concerns.

Bayer had been expected to file its European notification in April of this year. Approval is required from a number of other antitrust regulators around the world.

Bayer said:

“The EU filing is another important step in the overall merger process. Bayer, with the support of Monsanto, continues to make good progress on the regulatory front. The companies remain committed to working with regulators globally as we continue to target closing by the end of the year.”

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