Anti-trust regulators to closely scrutinize Bayer-Monsanto deal

Dec 16, 2016

The massive acquisition of Monsanto by Bayer likely won't happen without both companies divesting some of their current product lines - which include seeds and herbicides. That's the assessment of Saint Louis University Law Professor Tim Greaney, who used to work for the U.S. Justice Department's anti-trust division. Greaney was a guest Friday on St. Louis on the Air. 

Monsanto and Bayer need regulatory approval in order to move forward with the acquisition of the St. Louis-based company.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio
 He said regulators in more than 30 countries will examine the roughly $65 billion deal, including the U.S. and European Union. "It will be a long, extended period of review - potentially litigation. It the parties can't agree on divestiture, the case can go to court. Justice right now is challenging two major mergers in the health insurance industry," Greaney told host Don Marsh. Greaney said anti-trust regulators will be closely examining three areas where Monsanto and Bayer appear to overlap. He points to seeds, herbicides that protect seeds and traits, which essentially are the intellectual property rights to modification technology. He said that presents a problem under traditional anti-trust analysis. "When you get over 30 or 40 percent of any market, the law says that's presumptively illegal. In this case, in some markets, the cotton seed market, the companies have over 70 percent of all of the seeds by acreage sold in the U.S.," Greaney said. Greaney added that Bayer produces the main rival to Monsanto's Roundup herbicide. Monsanto shareholders this week approved Bayer's acquisition of the St. Louis company. Bayer is expected to start filing documents with anti-trust regulators this month. Both companies say the deal is on track to close next year. Follow Wayne on Twitter: @wayneradio