EU to Review Bayer, Monsanto Deal

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An employee holds a handful of rapeseeds in this arranged photograph at the Bayer CropScience processing facility, operated by Bayer AG, in Monheim, Germany, on June 17. Photo: Bloomberg News

BRUSSELS—The European Union’s antitrust agency signaled Wednesday it would conduct a strict review of Bayer AG BAYRY 2.57 % ’s pending $62 billion purchase of Monsanto Co. MON 1.11 % and similar mergers by rivals, an unusually early statement before the EU has received formal notification of a deal.

“Our final decision [on the Bayer/Monsanto deal] must strictly and impartially apply European merger control rules”, said European Union Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager in a letter to two Members of the European Parliament posted on the Green Party’s website.

The Green Party lawmakers, Martin Haeusling and Sven Giegold, had voiced concerns about the merger to the European Commission, the bloc’s antitrust agency.

“In our investigation, we will take into account your concerns about the effects of the Bayer-Monsanto merger on prices, the variety of available seed products as well as research and innovation,” Ms. Vestager said.

Bayer’s bid comes at a time when other rivals in the industry, including Dow Chemical Co. DOW -2.04 % , DuPont Co. DD -2.08 % and Syngenta AG SYT 0.22 % , have also made plans to merge. That could mean that some markets may already be more concentrated by the time Bayer formally notifies any deal with the EU regulators.

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But in the letter, Ms. Vestager suggested the EU would consider the context that several mergers in the sector would be taking place at the same time.

“I can assure you that my case teams will examine the three announced mergers in the seeds and agrochemicals sector very carefully,”

The European Commission has the power to block the deals or demand the parties submit remedies, such as divesting assets, to assuage any competition concerns.

Natalia Drozdiak at natalia.drozdiak@wsj.com





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