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UPDATE 2-Bayer wins EU approval for $62.5 bln Monsanto buy

From Reuters - March 21, 2018

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - German conglomerate Bayer won EU antitrust approval on Wednesday for its $62.5 billion buy of U.S. peer Monsanto, the latest in a trio of mega mergers that will reshape the agrochemicals industry.

The tie-up is set to create a company with control of more than a quarter of the worlds seed and pesticides market.

Driven by shifting weather patterns, competition in grain exports and a faltering global farm economy, Dow and Dupont, and ChemChina and Syngenta had earlier led a wave of consolidation in the sector.

Both deals secured EU approval only after the companies offered substantial asset sales to boost rivals.

Environmental and farming groups have opposed all three deals, worried about their power and their advantage in digital farming data, which can tell farmers how and when to till, sow, spray, fertilize and pick crops based on algorithms.

The European Commission said Bayer addressed its concerns with its offer to sell a swathe of assets to boost rival BASF, confirming a Reuters story on Feb. 28.

Our decision ensures that there will be effective competition and innovation in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture markets also after this merger, European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

In particular, we have made sure that the number of global players actively competing in these markets stays the same.

Vestager said the Commission, which received more than a million petitions concerning the deal, had been thorough by examining more than 2,000 different product markets and 2.7 million internal documents to produce a 1,285-page ruling.

The U.S. Justice Department, which is also reviewing the merger, said in a statement on its website that it would press on with its review and that the market in the two regions was quite different.

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