by Gaspard Sebag and Aoife White
Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. are on track to win European Union approval for their $74 billion tie-up as soon as next month after tweaking concessions to allay antitrust concerns, according to people familiar with the situation.
Regulators don’t see the need for more feedback from rivals and customers and plan to consult the EU’s lawyers and policymakers on final approval for the deal, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. Shares of both companies rose more than 3%.
The takeover, announced a year ago, is one of a trio of mega-deals that would reshape the global agrochemicals industry. The others are Bayer AG’s plan to buy Monsanto Co. and China National Chemical Corp.’s agreement to buy Syngenta AG. The combined transactions would whittle down six industry players to three behemoths in America, Germany and China.
The EU’s review went beyond scrutiny of how the Dow and DuPont businesses overlap to examine how their combination might affect R&D spending for the industry in future and how the patents they hold might point to future market shares. DuPont earlier this month offered to sell part of its pesticides business and related research and development operations to address worries that the deal might harm innovation for crop-protection products.
Dow and DuPont didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The European Commission declined to comment. A formal decision is likely to come before the April 4 deadline.
ChemChina and Syngenta have an April 12 deadline for an EU decision, and the companies have also made concessions to try to win over regulators.
Bayer plans to file for EU approval of the $66 billion purchase in the second quarter after regulators sought more information, Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann said Wednesday. The company is also responding to a second request from the U.S. Department of Justice, he said.
Bayer is "confident that we will be granted all the necessary antitrust clearances enabling us to close the transaction before the end of 2017," the company said in its annual report. "The necessary funding will also be available for investments at our sites" and "this applies to research and development as well," Bayer said, citing a planned increase in R&D spending this year in an apparent reference to the EU concerns.
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