Du Pont-Dow Chemical merger deal gets US antitrust nod

DuPont and Dow Chemical Co have received approval from US antitrust authorities for a merger of their operations on condition that the companies sell certain crop protection products and other assets, according to a court filing on Thursday.

The asset sale required by US antitrust enforcers was similar to what the companies had agreed to in a deal they struck with European regulators in March. But the National Farmers Union was quick to denounce the deal, which, it said, was similar to several big-ticket mergers by farm suppliers. According to the union, farmers would face higher costs from the deal.

The justice department said the asset sales would help prevent price hikes. At the time it was announced in 2015, the deal was billed as an all-stock merger valued at $130 billion.

According to the filing in the US district court for the district of Columbia, Du Pont would sell its Finesse herbicide for winter wheat and Rynaxypyr insecticides, which, the justice department said, had US annual sales of over $100 million.

Dow will also sell its US acid copolymers and ionomers businesses, which are used to make food packaging and other goods.

The approval was the last major hurdle for the transaction that was announced in late 2015. On completion, the two corporate giants will consolidate and split into three separate, independent businesses by 2019. Two of the new companies, which will focus on agriculture and specialty products, will be headquartered in Delaware, while a third, material sciences business, will have headquarters in Dow's hometown of Midland, Michigan.

Commentators point out that Canada was the only jurisdiction to have not yet confirmed the deal. The EU, China, Brazil and Australia each approved the merger earlier this year.

The companies said in a joint statement that US approval was still subject to court approval.