Bayer to sell digital farming business to win approval for Monsanto deal

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Bayer (BAYGn.DE) said it was planning to sell its digital farming business, and not just grant a license to competitors, to win antitrust approval for the planned takeover of Monsanto (MON.N).

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

In addition, certain Bayer seed treatment products will be offered for sale instead of Monsanto’s NemaStrike seed treatment brand.

“These changes have been made in response to corresponding indications from regulators,” Germany’s Bayer said in a statement on Wednesday.

The Wall Street Journal on Monday cited people familiar with the matter as saying the U.S. Justice Department had reached an agreement in principle with Bayer and Monsanto after the companies agreed to sell more assets.

Bayer, which has already secured conditional European approval, declined to comment on Wednesday which regulator had prompted it to make the changes.

It added that BASF (BASFn.DE) was the intended purchaser of all the assets it was selling.

In a separate statement, the European Commission said on Wednesday it had approved a request by Bayer to make two modifications to the commitments it made to get approval for the Monsanto purchase.

The competition watchdog said it was still assessing whether BASF was a suitable buyer for the units under an April 30 deadline.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Arno Schuetze

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