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Bayer gets U.S. approval to buy Monsanto: report

Reuters — German drugs and pesticides group Bayer has reached a deal with the U.S. Justice Department for antitrust approval for its US$62.5 billion bid to acquire Monsanto by agreeing to sell additional assets, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The Justice Department reached an agreement in principle with the two companies in recent days, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. Under the deal, Bayer agreed to sell additional seed and treatment assets to BASF and agreed to make concessions related to digital agriculture, the Journal said.

Bayer declined comment on the report, but said in a statement it anticipated closing the Monsanto purchase in the second quarter.

“We remain confident in our ability to obtain all necessary regulatory approvals and look forward to continuing to work diligently with regulators to support that process,” it said.

A spokeswoman for BASF could not immediately be reached for comment. The Department of Justice and Monsanto both declined to comment.

Last week, Monsanto said in its quarterly earnings report that it was confident the U.S. and other needed regulatory approvals would be secured within the second quarter.

Monsanto did not host a conference call with analysts to discuss the earnings, as is its usual practice, because of the pending merger.

European Union antitrust regulators approved the deal in March after the companies agreed to sell a swathe of assets to BASF. China, Brazil and Australia have also approved the proposed merger.

The deal is the third in the sector, preceded by a merger of Dow and Dupont, and a merger of ChemChina and Syngenta.

— Reporting for Reuters by Karan Nagarkatti in Bangalore and Diane Bartz in Washington.

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