European Union regulators give conditional OK to Dow-DuPont merger
It said the asset sales would ensure competition in the sector and benefit European farmers and consumers.
The European Commission gave conditional approval to the merger of DuPont and the Dow Chemical Company, a statement Monday from both companies said. The company is also selling a contract with a third party to buy ionomers. Dow and DuPont responded by agreeing to divest some business units to appease regulators.
Margrethe Vestage, the chair of the European Commission, the European Union's top regulatory agency, said in a statement the divestiture conditions were necessary to ensure the merger "does not reduce price competition for existing pesticides or innovation for safer and better products in the future".
Vestager said the choice of buyer for their assets was up to Dow and DuPont but that a potential purchaser would need to have the necessary resources to make the new business viable without triggering new antitrust concerns.
The EU approved the $130 billion merger that will see the two industry giants separate into three different publically traded companies focused on agriculture, material science, and the production and sale of specialty products.
We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment.
Dow said the "regulatory milestone" was a significant step towards completing the merger deal.
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If all tie-ups are successful, "the three resulting companies could control around 70% of the world's agro-chemicals and more than 60% of commercial seeds", said a letter from Friends of the Earth and co-signed by Greenpeace and dozens of other groups.
The deal values the merged company at $130bn (£103bn) and is expected to lead to cost savings of $3bn.
Sources said last week that ChemChina's [CNNCC.UL] $43 billion bid for Syngenta (SYNN.S) could be approved this week but the timing could slip.
Opponents to the deals warned that the tie-ups would deepen threats to the environment, bring higher prices to struggling farmers as well as boost the controversial genetically-modified crops industry.
Lobbying group Friends of the Earth Europe criticised the European Union decision, saying that the three deals would lead to three companies controlling about 70 percent of the world's agrichemicals and more than 60 percent of commercial seeds.
The moves to sell significant portions of both companies were spurred in part by the EU's concern that the Dow and DuPont deal would disincentivize innovation, specifically for herbicides and pesticides, and create less competition if both companies were allowed to keep all current business assets.
Vestager has not been shy of tackling major U.S. companies since she took on the competition brief in 2014, winning praise in Europe but criticism across the Atlantic.
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