China conditionally approves Bayer’s Monsanto deal


Beijing | Reuters — Bayer on Tuesday secured conditional approval from China’s commerce ministry for its planned acquisition of the world No. 1 seed company Monsanto, chalking up a victory in an onerous struggle to win over watchdogs across the globe.

The ministry also ordered the German drug and crop chemicals maker to spin off some businesses globally, including vegetable seeds, corn, soybean, cotton, and herbicide, according to a statement posted on the ministry’s website.

Bayer has already pledged to sell certain seed and herbicide assets for 5.9 billion euros (C$9.35 billion) to BASF to address EU regulatory concerns and has separately offered to sell its vegetable seeds business to BASF.

“These divestments are covered by our agreement and the ongoing negotiations with BASF as previously communicated,” Bayer said in a statement.

In addition, Bayer committed to grant “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory access” to the merged entity’s digital agriculture offerings in China to Chinese developers of farm management software.

Bayer has secured the go-ahead from Brazilian regulators, while people familiar with the matter told Reuters two weeks ago that Bayer was in the frame to win conditional antitrust approval from the European Union for the US$62.5 billion (C$80.2 billion) deal.

Bayer said at the time that the U.S. review was not as far advanced as EU’s, but it was confident it would make progress there over the next few weeks.

In Russia, however, Bayer has taken the regulator to court to “safeguard its rights” in the review procedure.

— Reporting by Reuters’ Beijing monitoring desk, Patricia Weiss and Ludwig Burger.

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