The Justice Department has decided to allow BayerAG’s megadeal to acquire Monsanto Co., valued at more than $60 billion, after the companies pledged to sell off additional assets to secure government antitrust approval, according to people familiar with the matter.
An agreement in principle between the companies and the department, brokered in recent days, marked a breakthrough in the U.S. merger review process, which had remained in limbo because of Justice Department concerns about the deal.
Germany’s Bayer, a pharmaceutical and chemical conglomerate, is a leading player in the pesticide industry, while Monsanto, based in St. Louis, is a market leader on seeds and crop genes. The deal, which was announced in September 2016, would make Bayer the world’s biggest supplier of pesticides and seeds for farmers.
The European Union last month conditionally approved the deal after Bayer agreed to sell off more than $7 billion worth of assets to rival BASF SE. The sales include Bayer’s soybean and cottonseed businesses, as well as Bayer’s glufosinate weedkiller, which competes against Monsanto’s Roundup.
As part of an agreement with U.S. antitrust enforcers, people familiar with the matter said Bayer will divest additional seed and seed-treatment assets and will make concessions related to its digital agriculture business, which provides data-driven farming advice and services. BASF will also acquire those assets, the people said.
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