The largest acquisition in German corporate history has cleared a key milestone in the United States.
The shareholders of Monsanto, the world’s largest seed maker, approved a $66-billion (€62 billion) takeover by the German chemicals giant Bayer at a special meeting in St. Louis on Tuesday.
According to a Monsanto press release, 99 percent of the votes cast, which represent 75 percent of all outstanding shares, were in favor of the acquisition.
The deal is still subject to regulatory approval on both sides of the Atlantic. Monsanto expects to close the deal by the end of 2017.
The two chemicals giants went through months of painstaking, back-and-forth negotiations before they finally settled on the $66-billion figure, or $128 per share, in September.
Monsanto had rejected an initial offer of $58 billion or $125 per share, which forced Bayer to up the ante and made the German chemical company’s own shareholders increasingly nervous.
Monsanto experienced a windfall for the first 12 years of the millennium as the leading producer of genetically modified seeds, but its operating profit and pre-tax earnings have stagnated since 2013.
The merger of Monsanto and Bayer follows a wave of massive consolidations in the global chemicals industry. ChemChina agreed to buy the Swiss pesticides-maker Syngenta for $43 billion last February, and Dow Chemical and DuPont’s shareholders agreed to a $59-billion merger in July.