Canadian Competition Bureau still reviewing Bayer-Monsanto deal

A Bayer canola seed bag

With the European Union granting its conditional approval in late March, and U.S. antitrust authorities reportedly set to give their thumbs-up signal, Canada’s competition regulator has yet to issue its decision on Bayer’s proposed acquisition of Monsanto.

The US$66 billion deal, which was originally announced in September 2016, has significant implications in the Canadian market, particularly in the area of canola seed and canola seed traits, where Bayer and Monsanto hold the majority of market share.

In order to gain approval in other countries, Bayer has already agreed to sell part of its seed and crop protection business to BASF. If the Monsanto acquisition is approved, Bayer has said it will sell its global glufosinate-ammonium business and the related LibertyLink herbicide tolerance technology, as well as its North American and European canola and soybean seed businesses, to BASF for approximately C$8.7 billion. Last week, the company added its Bayer Digital Farming business and certain Bayer seed treatment products to the list of assets it will divest to BASF to gain regulatory approval.

A spokesperson for the Canadian Competition Bureau confirms the federal agency is still reviewing the deal, but doesn’t offer a timeline for a decision.

“As always, we work to complete our reviews as expeditiously as possible,” says Jean-Philippe Lepage.

Although the U.S. Department of Justice has not yet made any official announcement, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported last week that the department was poised to grant its conditional approval. Lepage doesn’t say whether the timing of an announcement by the Canadian regulator is related to the timeline of U.S. approval.

“The Bureau works frequently with its international counterparts to fulfill its mandate to effectively enforce the Competition Act,” he says. “However, the Bureau conducts its merger reviews independently and confidentially; therefore, I cannot comment further.”

In the case of the Dow-DuPont merger, the Competition Bureau announced its approval less than two weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice gave its clearance in June 2017.

As recently as last week, both Bayer and Monsanto said they still expect the deal will be completed within the second quarter of the 2018 calendar year.

 

Kelvin Heppner

Kelvin Heppner is a field editor and radio host for RealAgriculture and RealAg Radio. He's been reporting on agriculture on the prairies and across Canada since 2008(ish). He farms with his family near Altona, Manitoba, and is on Twitter at @realag_kelvin. @realag_kelvin

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