German drug and agrochemicals major Bayer expects to close acquisition of Monsanto by early 2018 as the talks with regulators around the world and other stakeholders are in advanced stages.
Bayer had in September 2016 agreed to take over the American seeds major Monsanto for USD 66 billion, ending months of wrangling with a third sweetened offer that marked the largest all-cash deal on record. The deal was to be closed by end 2017.
“In consultation with the European Commission, we filed an application on September 18 this year to extend the review deadline (for acquisition of Monsanto) by 10 working days until January 22, 2018, with the aim of facilitating an appropriate evaluation given the size of the transaction,” Bayer president for crop sciences division and management board member Liam Condon said.
Condon was addressing a visiting media delegation from India at the company’s Future of Farming Dialog 2017 here on Tuesday.
“Due to this, an anticipated closing of the deal in early 2018 is now more likely than end of 2017,” he said.
Bayer submitted applications for clearance to almost all of the around 30 relevant authorities, and has already received approvals from over one-third of them, he added.
He said the European Commission is working very closely with the departments of justice in US and Canada and other regulatory authorities around the world.
Condon said there are very constructive talks going on with the regulators around the world to conclude the deal. “We’ve a reasonably clear picture what the issues could be and we don’t expect any surprises going forward.”
Whether Bayer is looking at selling any businesses where Monsanto also has presence, Condon said there is not much overlap.
“The overlap is in the area of seeds and traits and herbicide technology. These are the areas that are under discussions now with regulators and we will find out what are the necessary divestment to ensure that competition remains strong in future as well.
“We are in discussions with many interested parties who are interested in acquiring these assets either in total or as a parts of the overall package. Right now, we don’t have a preference about who the acquirer is,” Condon said.
On their digital farming business, he said they have lined up a huge investment. “We are committed to investing at least 200 million euros in our digital farming business between 2015 and 2020.”
Innovative digital farming technologies help farmers big and small to grow healthier crops more efficiently and more sustainably, he said.
Bayer’s global R&D head for crop sciences division, Adrian Percy said his division has been investing nearly 1 billion euro annually to bring in new products and to address challenges affecting farmers worldwide.
The Bayer-Monsanto deal has become the signature transaction in a consolidation race that has roiled the agribusiness sector globally in recent years, due to shifting weather patterns, rising competition in grain exports and a souring farm economy globally due to bad weather conditions.
The deal will create a conglomerate commanding over a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides.