BASF Agrees to Buy Bayer's Liberty and Seed Businesses

The businesses to be acquired by BASF had 2016 sales of about €1.3 billion and earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortisation of about €385 million. Image Reuters

Bayer flogs billions worth of assets ahead of its $66bn Monsanto takeover deal

Bayer (OTCPK:BAYRY) agrees to sell significant parts of its crop science business to rival BASF (OTCQX:BASFY) for €5.9B ($6.98B), which it says will partially finance its planned acquisition of Monsanto (NYSE:MON).

Kurt Bock said that he was "seizing the opportunity" to purchase the assets in question. "It will be a strategic complement to BASF's well-established and successful crop protection business, as well as to our own activities in biotechnology". "We are pleased that, in BASF, we have found a strong buyer for our businesses that will continue to serve the needs of growers and offer our employees long-term prospects".

The European Commission said earlier this month that it would put on hold its competition probe of Bayer's US$66 billion mega-deal - the largest in German history - to take over controversial U.S. seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto, allowing the companies time to offer new information.

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The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and the successful closing of Bayer s acquisition of Monsanto.

By contrast, BASF is the only large firm in the chemicals industry not to have been involved in what the "Financial Times" described as a "wave of mega-mergers".

The EU began assessing the implications of Bayer's acquisition of Monsanto in August and is now gathering the information needed to conduct an in-depth probe.

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The sale of the LibertyLink-branded seeds and Liberty herbicide businesses, which generated around 1.3 billion euros of sales in 2016, is a key part of the assets Bayer must sell.

Bayer still hopes to close its Monsanto merger "by early 2018", although the Commission said in August that the deadline for a decision would be pushed back from the previous date of January 22 next year. The seeds businesses being divested include the global cotton seed business (excluding India and South Africa), the North American and European canola seed businesses and the soybean seed business.

It also noted that both companies have large market shares in vegetable seeds and several field crops where their products compete against one another.

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Under the agreement, more than 1,800 employees will be transferred to BASF, which has committed to maintaining all permanent positions for at least three years.

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