Exclusive: U.S. states join Dow-DuPont merger probe - sources

Mon Nov 7, 2016 5:04pm EST
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By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. state attorneys general have joined a federal antitrust probe of the planned merger between DuPont (DD.N: Quote) and Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N: Quote), according to three people familiar with the matter, heightening risks to a deal that could help reshape the global farm industry.

A separate group of state attorneys general are expected to join a probe of Bayer AG's (BAYGn.DE: Quote) $66 billion plan to buy Monsanto Co (MON.N: Quote), one of the sources said.

The involvement of the state attorneys general increases scrutiny of the mega deals and will complicate what are already expected to be tough and lengthy reviews by U.S. antitrust enforcers.

About seven states, including California, have joined the probe of Dow's planned merger with DuPont, according to two people familiar with the matter. It was not yet clear how many states would join the Bayer-Monsanto merger investigation, one source said.

The states are concerned that the companies may raise pesticide and herbicide prices for farmers following a merger, and have less incentive to compete to introduce better and cheaper products, two of the sources said.

The sources asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak with the media

DuPont and Dow said in separate statements they expected to win approval for their deal. "In the U.S., we are working constructively with federal and state regulatory authorities, elected officials and all agriculture stakeholders to show the pro-competitive benefits of the merger," the companies said.

Bayer said in a statement it looked forward to "working diligently with regulators to ensure a successful close." Monsanto did not respond to a request for comment.   Continued...

A sign is seen at an entrance to a Dow Chemical Co plant in Plaquemine, Louisiana December 12, 2015     REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman