Bayer to sell Liberty herbicide and Liberty Link-branded seeds businesses

German chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences company Bayer today said that it will sell its Liberty herbicide and Liberty Link-branded seeds businesses across the globe in order to gain South African antitrust approval for its planned merger with Monsanto.

The South African Competition Commission imposed condition that Bayer divests its Liberty herbicide and Liberty Link-branded seeds businesses for it to gain approval for its merger with Monsanto.

The regulator said that the merger will create a monopoly in the market for the supply of genetically modified (GM) cotton seeds in South Africa.

The commission said there are several structural factors in the seed industry, which are conducive for coordinated conduct which would be enhanced by the proposed merger through the prevalence of cross licensing agreements.

The commission had imposed conditions for the merged entity to divest and sell the entire global Liberty Link trait technology and the associated Liberty branded agrochemicals business of Bayer.

"The commission has also imposed a condition that requires the potential buyer of the divested businesses to commercialise the divested products in South Africa, or alternatively, oblige the potential buyer to license the divested business to a South African third party to commercialise anywhere in the world should the buyer be unable to do so," the South African Competition Commission had said in a statement yesterday.

"Bayer has agreed to these conditions and is evaluating how best to execute the imposed divestiture," Bayer said in its statement.

"Bayer will continue working with regulators globally with a view to receiving approval of the proposed transaction by the end of 2017," the statement added.

In September last year, Bayer agreed to buy Monsanto for $66 billion in cash in order to create a crop sciences giant (See: Bayer buys Monsanto for $66-bn to create a crop sciences giant).