Bayer wins US approval for acquisition of Monsanto

Bayer won U.S. antitrust approval for its planned takeover of Monsanto on condition that it sells about $9 billion in assets, the Justice Department said on Tuesday, clearing a major hurdle for the $62.5 billion deal.

The divestiture required by U.S. antitrust enforcers “aligns closely” with divestitures the European Union required, according to a source knowledgeable about the agreement between Bayer and the US government.

Makan Delrahim, who heads the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, said the asset sales agreed to by Bayer were the “largest ever divestiture ever required by the United States.”

In agreements with global antitrust enforcers, Bayer committed to sell its entire cotton, canola, soybean and vegetable seeds businesses and digital farming business, as well its Liberty herbicide, which competes with Monsanto’s Roundup.

Under agreements with European and other antitrust enforcers, Bayer has agreed to sell assets that include its seed and some crop chemicals activities, with revenues of 2.2 billion euros ($2.6 billion), to rival BASF for 7.6 billion euros.

Bayer said in a statement that it expected Bayer and Monsanto to begin the integration process as soon as the sales to BASF are complete, which it said are expected to take two months to complete.

The German pharmaceuticals and life sciences company had said it was on track to wrap up the deal soon. If it is not closed by June 14, Monsanto could withdraw from the takeover agreement and seek a higher price.

Bayer has already secured the go-ahead from key jurisdictions, including the European Union, Brazil and Russia. Apart from the United States, it still needs clearance in Canada and Mexico.

Bayer last week said synergies from folding Monsanto into its organization would be about $300 million below its previous target because it will have to sell more businesses than initially expected.

“Receipt of the DOJ’s (Justice Department’s) approval brings us close to our goal of creating a leading company in agriculture,” Bayer CEO Werner Baumann said in a statement.