Antitrust officials put teeth in order for business sales by Dow, DuPont

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Graphic courtesy of WHYY Newsworks.

While the government has signed off on the $130 billion merger between Dow and DuPont, antitrust officials are requiring the sales of some businesses.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it will require the companies to sell off multiple crop protection and two petrochemical business lines. At the same time, the two companies announced the final major barrier to the merger had been removed.

The Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, along with the offices of three state attorneys general, filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to enjoin the proposed transaction, along with a proposed settlement that, if approved by the court, would resolve the competitive concerns. The participating state attorneys general offices represent Iowa, Mississippi, and Montana.

The sell-off requirements come as no surprise as other nations made the sales contingent on their OK on the merger. DuPont previous announced the sale of a portion of its crop protection business to FMC in return for cash and buying a smaller FMC food ingredient business.

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DuPont will end up with FMC’s half-century old plant in Newark, with FMC gaining a portion of the Stine-Haskell research complex, also in Newark.

The department said that, without the divestitures, the proposed merger likely would reduce competition between two of only a handful of chemical companies that manufacture certain types of crop protection chemicals and the only two U.S. producers of acid copolymers and ionomers, potentially harming U.S. farmers and consumers.

“The Department of Justice conducted a thorough investigation into this merger,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Andrew Finch of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. “As originally proposed, the merger would have eliminated important competition between Dow and DuPont in the development and sale of insecticides and herbicides that are vital to American farmers who plant winter wheat and various specialty crops. In addition, it would have given the merged company a monopoly over ethylene derivatives known as acid copolymers and ionomers that are used to manufacture many products, including food packaging. The remedies obtained by today’s settlement, including the divestiture of DuPont’s market-leading Finesse and Rynaxypyr crop protection products, will preserve vigorous competition in the sale of these products and benefit American farmers and consumers alike.”

Following the merger, the combined companies be split off into three pubicly traded business units. The headquarters of the agricultural business and another collection of product lines would be based in Delaware. The third business will be based at Dow’s headquarters town of Midland, MI.

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