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Bayer to Win U.S. Antitrust Nod for Monsanto Deal Next Week

David McLaughlin
Hybrid squash seeds sit in unsealed tins at the Seminis processing plant, the vegetable seeds division of Monsanto Co., in Enkhuizen, Netherlands, on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Monsanto's disappointing earnings report could help Bayer AG with its proposed $53.7 billion takeover of the world's largest seed company. Photographer: Jasper Juinen

Bayer AG is set to win U.S. antitrust approval for its $66 billion takeover of Monsanto Co. by next week, according to a person familiar with the matter, removing the last major regulatory hurdle to forming the world’s biggest seed and agricultural-chemicals company.

The companies and the Justice Department have negotiated a complex agreement that would resolve the government’s concerns that the merger as initially structured would harm competition, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter is private. The deal could be announced as soon as Tuesday following months of negotiations.

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The German company’s agreement to buy Monsanto, announced two years ago, is one of several deals involving seed and crop-chemical firms around the world. Last year, U.S. and EU regulators approved Dow Chemical Co.’s merger with DuPont Co. and China National Chemical Corp.’s takeover of Syngenta AG. The wave of transactions is set to create three industry behemoths, sparking concern among some farmers about higher prices and less choice.

St. Louis-based Monsanto rose 1.2 percent to $126.90 at 1:46 p.m. in New York.

Representatives for Bayer, Monsanto and the Justice Department declined to comment. The timing of the announcement was reported earlier by MLex. Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann said Friday the company expects to close "in the near future."

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The settlement is coming together after Justice Department antitrust officials, led by Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, had raised concerns about Bayer’s plan to sell assets to BASF SE to address competition problems, and wanted to see additional divestitures.

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