The European Commission has approved Bayer’s $66 billion takeover of Monsanto subject to the German company selling off its seed and pesticide businesses, along with research capacity, Europe’s competition chief announced Wednesday.
“We need competition to push companies to innovate in digital agriculture and to continue to develop new products that meet the high regulatory standards in Europe, to the benefit of all Europeans and the environment,” said Margrethe Vestager, the European commissioner for competition, adding that Bayer had been forced to sell off businesses worth some $6 billion.
That is unlikely to assuage the wrath of European environmentalists and nongovernmental organizations for whom Monsanto is a bête noire because of its production of genetically modified crops and controversial glyphosate-based pesticide. They were pinning their hopes on Vestager killing off what has been dubbed by some as the #mergerfromhell.
The deal is the last of three giant mergers — between Dow and DuPont and ChemChina and Syngenta — that will dramatically consolidate the group of companies that supply fertilizers and seeds to farmers across Europe.
Wednesday’s tie-up will fuse Germany’s Bayer, the world’s second largest supplier of pesticides, with the world’s largest supplier of seeds, to create the largest global integrated seed and pesticide player.
Germany’s BASF is set to emerge as a stronger player in that space after striking a deal to buy the businesses being spun off by Bayer, subject to EU approval, and take a license to its digital agriculture service.
Leverkusen-based Bayer committed to selling off its entire vegetable seed and broadacre seeds and trait businesses, as well as its glufosinate assets, a potential competitor to Monsanto’s glysophate. The divestments also include research capacity.