April 26, 2018 / 12:19 PM / a year ago

Bayer sells more assets, bringing Monsanto deal closer

WASHINGTON/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Bayer AG said on Thursday it had agreed to sell more crop science businesses to BASF in a deal that fulfils undertakings to the European Union and other regulators as part of its takeover of Monsanto Co.

The logo of Bayer AG is pictured at the Bayer Healthcare subgroup production plant in Wuppertal, Germany February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender/File Photo

The package, being sold for up to 1.7 billion euros ($2.1 billion), includes its global vegetable seeds business, certain seed treatments and digital farming activities with total sales of 745 million euros in 2017.

“With this move, we are implementing the corresponding undertakings made to the European Commission and other regulatory authorities to allow the successful closing of the Monsanto transaction,” Werner Baumann, Chairman of the Board of Management of Bayer AG, said in a statement.

The German drug and crop chemical maker’s bid to buy seed and chemical company Monsanto Co is on track to win U.S. antitrust approval by the end of May, unless there is a last-minute complication, two people familiar with the matter said earlier on Thursday.

The transaction, if it closes as seems likely, will create a company commanding more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry.

The U.S. Justice Department said in March it was pressing on with its antitrust review of the deal.

The merger has already cleared key hurdles. Russia’s antitrust regulator FAS approved it last week and the European Commission last month gave conditional clearance, following a conditional nod in Brazil.

Also last week, the German group raised 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) by selling new shares to Singapore’s state investment company, with further moves expected to increase its capital.

Bayer previously said it would only launch a cash call once it had sufficient clarity that the deal, signed in September 2016, would get the go-ahead.

It had already pledged to sell certain seed and herbicide assets for 5.9 billion euros ($7.2 billion) to BASF, as well as its vegetable seeds business.

Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington and Ludwig Burger and Douglas Busvine in Frankfurt; Editing by Alexandra Hudson/David Evans

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