By Vishaka George
(Reuters) - DuPont said on Friday it would buy a unit of FMC Corp and sell its crop protection business to the company to win European Union approval for its merger with Dow Chemical, and delayed the deal's closing for the third time.
FMC's shares rose as much as 17 percent to hit a near three-year high at $72.00. DuPont's shares dipped 1.5 percent and Dow's shares were marginally down.
DuPont said it would sell part of its crop protection unit to FMC and buy nearly all of FMC's health and nutrition business in a deal that will fetch DuPont about $1.6 billion because of the difference in the value of the assets.
DuPont's crop protection unit makes herbicides for cereals and insecticides for fruit and vegetables.
The European Commission had been concerned that the $130 billion merger of two of the biggest and oldest U.S. chemical producers would leave few incentives to produce new herbicides and pesticides in the future.
The Dow-DuPont merger is still to be approved by regulators in the United States, Brazil, China, Australia and Canada, but Dow and DuPont said on Monday they were confident of clearing all remaining jurisdictions.
"We are far down the road in our conversations with the other regulators," DuPont CEO Edward Breen told Reuters, adding that conditional approval from the European Commission was "the big hurdle to get over".
Any further asset sales required by regulatory bodies would be "very small" compared with its crop protection divestiture, Breen said.
The Dow-DuPont deal is one of a trio of mega mergers that will reshape the industry and consolidate six companies into three.
The two other big deals being ChemChina's $43 billion bid for Syngenta and Bayer's acquisition of Monsanto.
DuPont said its merger with Dow, which was expected to close in the first half of 2017, is now anticipated to close between Aug. 1 and Sept. 1.
The combined company will eventually be spun-off into three independent publicly traded companies, the first being called "Material Science Co".
Dow and DuPont said on Friday the intended spin-offs are expected to occur within 18 months after merger closes.
The deal with FMC is expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to the closing of the DuPont-Dow merger.
(Reporting by Vishaka George in Bengaluru; Editing by Martina D'Couto)