Unholy hell: the EU Commission just approved Bayer’s $62 billion acquisition of Monsanto

From dw.com:

“We have approved Bayer’s plans to take over Monsanto because the parties’ remedies, worth well over €6 billion euros ($7.4 billion), meet our competition concerns in full,” said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s anti-trust chief.
She said the Leverkusen-based congolmerate had made commitments to dispose of key subsidiaries that overlap with Monsanto.

Vestager said the EU greenlight was subject to rules that ensure that “there will be effective competition and innovation in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture markets.”

Monsanto accepted an offer from Bayer in September to pay €46 billion to its shareholders and assume €7.3 billion in debt, to create the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company.

In an attempt to appease EU regulators, Bayer announced in October the sale of parts of its agrochemical business to German rival BASF, in a deal worth €5.7 billion.

Earlier this month, BASF also committed to buying Bayer’s vegetable seed business in a last-minute concession to Brussels.”

BASF is the largest manufacturer of chemicals in the world, and at the link above you’ll see what they paid for Monsanto’s seeds business ($7 billion) and the fact that they company has long wanted into the GMO seed business.  The corporation will also acquire Bayer’s herbicide business, commercialized under the Liberty, Basta and Finale brands, as well as several parts of its seed businesses in the Americas and Europe.

GM watchers and agroecology groups in Europe are fuming.

‘MEPs slam Commission approval of Bayer-Monsanto deal’, guengl.eu, (European United Left/Nordic Green Left European Parliamentary Group), 21/03/2018

“Today’s Commission approval of Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto was received with dismay and condemned by MEPs of the Left who warned of the consequences the decision will have on the integrity of the world’s food supply chain and the environment.
The €54bn deal is the latest in a string of mergers and acquisitions in the sector. Dow Chemical recently merged with Dupont and ChemChina acquired Swiss-seed-maker Syngenta.

Kateřina Konečná, member of the European Parliament Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, lamented the recklessness and disregard for the rights of citizens in the Commission’s decision:  
“This is a truly sad day for the EU and the citizens of Europe. Bayer’s acquisition of Monsanto will create an oligopoly whereby three multinational companies will control two-thirds of the global production of pesticides and other agro-chemicals. The world’s biodiversity should not be in the hands of corporations. This signifies a clear shift in power from small and medium-sized farmers to large multinational corporations.”

“This oligopoly will have full control over our food value chain. It will create dependency in agriculture and stifle innovation in the chemicals sector. The Commission is giving a green light to GMOs and pesticides in our food.”
Once the deal is concluded, Bayer-Monsanto may end up controlling nearly a quarter of the world’s pesticides market and together with Dow-Dupont they may control 76 per cent of the market for corn and 66 per cent of the market for soybeans.”

From etcgroup.org March 20: ‘NEWS RELEASE: Europe bows to Bayer-Monsanto… US may follow; Civil society responds with call for a UN Treaty on Competition. a few highlights.  They’re the civil society group that had alerted us to the dangers of ‘gene-splicing’ earlier (at the Café and at C99%).

“Acceptance of the deal in Brussels and Washington will likely finalize the last of three mega-mergers that have been in play in the seed and pesticide industries since 2015. Whereas six global companies controlled about two thirds of the global seed market and more than 70% of global pesticides at the beginning of the merger mania, four companies will now be left: Bayer-Monsanto will dominate, followed by Corteva Agriscience (the spinoff agricultural enterprise resulting from last year’s Dow-DuPont merger), and  the earlier agreed merger between Swiss-based Syngenta and ChemChina (the  acquisitive Chinese chemical company that is expected to soon merge with the still larger Sinochem). The fourth player in the field will be BASF – the well-heeled German giant that is expected to scoop up all or most of the assets Bayer and Monsanto are asked to divest. After the dust settles, the ‘Big Six’ Gene Giants that ruled global seed and pesticide markets for most of this century will become a ‘Fearsome Four’ and will control the same share of the market.

Big Data Deals:  At their core, all the mega-merger moves have been about control of big data in agriculture. Big data is behind the new “digital DNA” technologies, including synthetic biology and gene-editing, that are transforming agriculture research as well as so-called ‘precision farming’ platforms. On March 20th, Monsanto’s venture arm announced it was putting US$25 million into a new crop gene-editing company (Pairwise Plants) and establishing Monsanto’s VP of global biotech as CEO. A few weeks ago, Bayer was said to be offering BASF an exclusive license to its digital technology interests. Most recently, there are rumours that, under pressure from the US Department of Justice, Monsanto may even surrender its major digital asset, Climate Corp. which it bought in 2015 for US$930 million.

“If Brussels and Washington think they can appease farmers by getting Bayer-Monsanto sell their assets to BASF, they are wrong,” says Pat Mooney of ETC Group. “There are no conditions under which these three mega-mergers are good for farmers or for world food security – and shifting assets to BASF accomplishes nothing.”

UN Treaty on Competition:  ETC Group has been following corporate concentration in agribusiness since 1977 and sees the current mega-mergers as proof that governments are toothless and must negotiate a UN Treaty on Competition. “Regulators around the world are painfully aware that they don’t have the tools to block the current mega-mergers or subsequent wave,” argues Neth Daño of ETC Group.”

Reuters had reported that besides the US, of course, both China an Russia still hadn’t sign on to the merger.  Wondering why, I only found sorta/kinda ‘why Russia’ at Bloomberg.com:

“Bayer and Monsanto must still convince U.S. regulators who are pushing for the companies to divest more assets to resolve antitrust concerns, a person familiar with the probe said last week. Bayer is suing the Russian antitrust watchdog over an order [subscribers only link] for it to share technology with Russian companies.

Any U.S. antitrust hesitation is probably “more about timing than about blocking the deal,” Ulrich Huwald, an analyst with Warburg Research in Hamburg, said of reports that the Department of Justice is taking a closer look at the deal. “A political delay.”

Given that Russia has outlawed GMO seeds and products, I have to wonder whassup with that?  Wish that story weren’t behind a paywall.  But more from Bloomberg:

“BASF is lined up to buy Bayer’s global broadacre seeds and traits, including its research and development operations. The divestment plan covers oilseed rape, cotton, soybean and wheat as well as Bayer’s research on genetically modified traits. BASF will also purchase Bayer’s glufosinate assets and three research lines for herbicides, designed to replace glyphosate, a weedkiller that some European countries are moving to ban.

BASF will also take over Monsanto’s Nemastrike unit to protect seeds from worms. It will license a copy of Bayer’s digital agriculture operations and research pipeline. This will allow “BASF to replicate Bayer’s position in digital agriculture” in Europe, the EU said, and ensure the race “in this emerging field remains open.”

We are positive that the glyphosate Roundup) ‘replacements’ will be far safer™, yes?/s

Now some had posited that the head of the US State Dept. would either approve or deny the merger, but it seems it’s in fact Jeff Session’s Justice Department.  And remember, the Tweeter-in-Chief-elect had met with the CEOs of Bayer and Monsanto (Werner Baumann and Hugh Grant) last year over Jobs!  Jobs! Jobs! for amerika.  Wooot!

But if confirmed, Pompous Pompeo might whisper some sweet everythings into the ear of the DoJ anti-trust chief.  He was an author of the ‘DARK act’ back in 2015 try to make it illegal to any mention of GMO labels on food (and declare ‘sole authority to mandate GMO labeling and sets forth particular standards for any label that contains claims that GMOs were or were not used in the production of the food— hampering any attempts by the Food and Drug Administration to pass legislation on the federal level) .  It passed the House, must have died in the Senate.

But back to the head of the anti-trust department, Bloomberger says that Bayer may face hurdles (mmm-hmmmm) because:

“The U.S. review is being led by Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, who emerged as an aggressive enforcer after filing a lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.’s takeover of Time Warner Inc. That case is set to go to trial on Monday.

CEO Meetings

Delrahim has met with Bayer Chief Executive Officer Werner Baumann and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant. If the companies and the antitrust division can’t reach an agreement that resolves the government’s concerns, the Justice Department could file a lawsuit seeking to block the deal.

In its review of the proposed merger, the Justice Department is looking at horizontal antitrust issues, or competition in the same market, as well as vertical competition, or issues along supply chains, one of the people said.

Delrahim has taken a hard line on resolving vertical competition problems. These have typically been worked out through imposing conditions on how companies operate, but Delrahim has said he is concerned those kinds of fixes require antitrust enforcers to become regulators to monitor compliance. He prefers asset sales to resolve those issues.”  (and that the decision could take ‘months’.)

(Not that I know what all of that means exactly…)  How are you betting?  Myself, I’m quite bullish on the merger getting the Official OkeyDokey because … ♫’money make the world go around…world go around…♪♪, and after all, ‘the bidness of amerika…is bidness’ (h/t molly ivins)

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

18 responses to “Unholy hell: the EU Commission just approved Bayer’s $62 billion acquisition of Monsanto

  1. Hokey-dokey idiots,( not you, wendye)! This has gone far enough! You megas had better cast a glance over your shoulders, if you have any (which I doubt). That fire-red figure at your putrid rears is Mother Nature heading your way fast. She’s rolling up jet sleeves and by crikey she does mean business!

    Molly and her potbangers are right behind her and behind tbem are the 99 percent who ARE the largest group of seed savers in the world – bar none! We may have turned our swords into plowshares, but those plowshares will hammer you into the ground more effectively than any sword.

    And I repeat- You idiots! Warring against nature is not cool – you are cutting off your own big, red, greedy noses!

    She’s on OUR side, you fools!

    Thank you wendye. End of rant.

    • fine rant, and well done, esp. the threat of mother nature comin’ after them. .juliania! whooosh. and how fine it is to see you again.to call this obscene would be true; to call it evil would be as well. i’d not put any tweets in as they don’t cross-post well to c-99%, so i’ll add just two of the many that are of prie interest.

      (side note, not knowing if you could be online or not, i didn’t email you this diary you’d be interested in as i might have, should have done.) love, wd

      • Thanks,wd. I was indeed interested in a very timely piece about Ukraine, just still can’t do videos. I noticed at your other site that a commenter asked for a transcript. But didn’t feel I could contribute without viewing, as the diary presents a lot that is new visually.

        I wish Bayer had stuck to aspirin.

        • well, that diary’s gone down the memory hole x3, but the trnn transcript i’d inked has the trailer transcript plus some of what the ukranian director igor (sorry, i’ve forgotten his surname) answered to aaron maté’s questions.

          i haven’t watched the full documentary either. 2 little time to spare. sleep well if you can; gotta make a fire as mr. wd’s at another water meeting.

          • Ah yes, ‘fraid i’m a bit jaundiced about trnn as you might remember, ever since Greece, didn’t think they did them any favors. Just my opinion on that. Would be also why I veered away from the trailer excerpts I’m afraid.

            Although I should have checked the comments at least. Sorry. Will do.

            But in general my pace is snail track these days. Can’t really do much reading on thos tiny screen.

            • well, trnn is kinda weird, sometimes radical, sometimes ‘can the neoliberal dems be purged’, etc. aaron maté left DN!, thank goodness, and does some good interviews. but as for greece, comprador tsipras sold out his own people in the ‘cradle of democracy’ to trump, austerity, AND nato. i sent you the link, but you mostly said howdy to margo schulter, lol. tough to see (in my case, not hero anyway, i was rootin’ for him cuz of his campaign rhetoric) heroes w/ clay feet, though.

              but if you feel re: trnn as i do w/ amy goodman now, i’ll try to understand it.

              • Hi wendy, I think you forgot Israel in your list of Tsipras sellouts.

                • now ain’t you a sight for sore eyes, doug colwell. now in my defense, i had included ramsy baroud saying:

                  “It was not exactly wishful thinking, either. Syriza was openly critical of Israel and had “vowed to cut military ties with Israel upon coming to office,” wrote Patrick Strickland, reporting from Athens. Instead the “ties have, nonetheless, been deepened.”

                  Indeed, soon after taking power, the ‘radical left’-led Greek government signed a major military agreement with Israel, the ‘status of forces’ accord, followed by yet more military exercises.

                  All of this was reinforced by a propaganda campaign in Israel hailing the new alliance, coupled with a changing narrative in Greek media regarding Israel and Palestine.”

                  if you ever feel like it, contact me a wendyedavis (at) msn.com. good thing i’m cross-posting at c99%, though, since this place has become such a morgue lately. ;-) over yonder, this diary has 47 comments by now, many great ones, to boot. but yeah, fie on all tripras’s rubbish.

  2. how is it that “competition” leads to 3 or 4 companies controlling 90-99% of global everything? oh, cuz capitalism is bullshit?

    Russia is standing in the way of total domination of gmo’s/etc. by the West? how much do you think the climate change denialists running Moscow can be bought off for? or maybe not. in any case, competition on the global scale cannot be managed by the companies themselves, never has been. but it looks like business sectors are consolidating, being consolidated, in preparation for an impending intensification of the real capitalist competition: warfare among nation-states. concentration of industry makes it easier to undermine holdouts from a globalizing, totalizing system. call it “competition”, but it is nothing more than a form of warfare upon a sector of the Russian economy. and any other holdouts.

    assuming mother nature doesn’t crap us out sooner rather than later, I expect a lot of synergy in the very near future b/n Big GMO & Big NGO. and the development of pesticides, Ready Wrap Up or what have you (you know, “Earth, that’s a wrap. get off the stage.”), requires test subjects. and if it’s good for Big Pharma, why not Big Ag? don’t forget Big Chem while we are at it. and the BM Gates Foundation can be there to provide the vibrant intellectual & policy blah blah blah to exploit the synergistic possibilities of tomorrow today. for the children. who are the future. now.

    the s has really hit the f since the collapse of the USSR, hasn’t it? assuming anyone in the future cares enough to glance back at history, they’ll see the commies provided a brief 50 year interruption to capitalism’s steady march toward turning earth into the outhouse of the cosmos.

    anyway, a bit OT, but certain people are really big into making war on words. I say we start with the word Europe itself. I can look at a map and I call complete BS on that word. I mean, Italy is to Europe as Europe is to what actual continent? so why obfuscate matters by referring to something that doesn’t exist? how can such a nothing be the center the universe, huh? & after this EU ruling…time to nuke that word from orbit.

    • aw, jeez, j. i’ve been zombified by RL doin’s today i can barely read. i need to beg off until tomorrow, save for a tweet and tonight’s lullaby. do let me hear from you, please?

    • yes, the hidden hand of free market capitalism at play, no trust-busters restraints since teddy roosevelt, eh? and whoever broke up mt. bell, which was worse afterward. well, and ‘ Makan Delrahim, who emerged as an aggressive enforcer after filing a lawsuit to block AT&T Inc.’s takeover of Time Warner Inc.’ how do ya think that case will be decided? a wag over yonder noted that delrahim won’t last long, as in be tillersoned.

      the same wag asked what grizzlyAg and gmo’s might have to do with FP. you seem to be positing an answer i’m not getting. please explain more at will.

      but that india, africa, mexico, and further south are under gun of the big green revolutionists and amerikan approved puppets or thugs like modi, intent on privatization, neo-liberal shock doctrine, and the CFR, nestle, etc., it makes sense if not in any linear, coherent narrative i can come up with. bono and gates helped bi-wreck africa, and mi amigo crossed crocodiles quit blocking to help food sovereignty in ghana.

      and don’t forget there are Eastern and Western europe, and it may be my ignorance showing, but imo, the West looks down on those eastern nations, even though most of them are now under nato’s umbrella’. and i love the devil outta ‘readyWrap’, ooof.

      stay well and safe in oly, amigo. we’re pullin’ for ya.Eastern and Western

  3. Duly noted… The ten percent tithe has been made and accepted by MammonEuroRipedes, or is it the EuroGruppe?.
    The Bundesbank (read:German capitalism) has succeeded where the Wehrmacht failed.
    As below (Greece) so above (US… and I do mean us!).

    What will Trump’s choice be between:
    Bigger is better!
    America First!

    Bet on what ya bet with, my friends
    Bet on what ya bet with


    However, ACIM instructs that, in case of judgements made, pray that you might be wrong. I might well be happier with this horror show if the brain damaged(?) Killer Clown grinds the merger into red meat for the base.

    Remember when we all thought Vanilla Ice was a bullshitting golddigger?
    Yeah, well Trump is 70+ and he ain’t never been nothing but…
    And if Trump should actually change and grow, it will be a heart attack or the 24th(?) Amendment for him. Sadly [for Trump], the US Presidency doesn’t change or transform the office holder, it is more like a giant dose of ever-so-much-more-so.
    Wheeee! Here we go!

    • ouch. great: ‘MammonEuroRipedes’, and yes, winning the war by other means. soylentgreen over yonder reminded us that i.g. farben, maker of cyclon-b had split into other corps, one of which was payer. i asked if BASF might have been another spin-off.

      dunno you allusions to vanilla ice, nor BD, though. and i’d had to bingle the course in miracles acronym, but…sage advice, that.

      ah well, dumpty frumpty can’t always decide which theme is in the forefront of his demented noggin one day to the next, so long as it’s ‘Jobs and more jobs, let the market decide!’, maga!

      but i reckon the hurry up on replace mcmaster w/ OMG bolton was a direct effect of his hosting the clown prince salaman and selling him twice more
      $billions of weapons than obama had at only a paltry one billion’s worth. yeah, i reckon that the oval just concentrates what was already there, but i’m not absolutely committed to that theory.

  4. yeppers, i found it, and at counterpunch. no surprise that i’d kinda remembered it.
    September 16, 2016 ‘The Ghost of IG Farben: Can Monsanto Reform Bayer?’ by Victor Grossman in berlin:

    “IG Farben was also split up. But its three main components, now separate again, and urgently needed in a quickening Cold War, grew until each one became 20 times bigger than IG Farben as a whole was at its height in 1944, the last year of the war. By 1952 the new West German government of Konrad Adenauer had amnestied and released the last of those imprisoned, who were soon back in leading positions in the world of chemicals and pharmaceuticals.” [snip]

    “A few years after his release from prison, Fritz ter Meer was reinstated as a managing board member of Bayer. All three sibling firms BASF, Bayer and Hoechst (which later merged with the French company to form Aventis) soon filled their highest positions with former Nazis.”


  5. Yowza! This is the first time I even knew that Dow and DuPont had merged, to the tune of $130 billion, and now there’s another unthinkably huge Monsanto Bayer monstrosity prowling around the planet. So now the “Big Six” control more than 2/3 of global agriculture, and meanwhile Euro-bureaucrats are scratching their pointy little heads and asking “Will this be good for competition?”

    HARHARHAR!!! Godzilla ate Mothra, and they won’t even notice when they eat all the rest of us, like the left-over crumbs at a beast-feast.

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