He enjoys wear old-fashioned pinstriped suits and a big knot in his tie. Joshua Wright is only 39 years old, but he is as conservative as his clothing. As a Republican representative in the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2015, he voted for a merger of food giants Sysco and U.S. Foods. Then the Democrats made it impossible. But Mr. Wright might soon have the power to approve mergers in his own hands.
Mr. Wright is a cartel expert on President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team. The lawyer and economist, seen as a candidate to head up corporate investigations at the Department of Justice, has a typical Republican view of tie-ups. “The merging of competitors often does not lead to more concentrated market power,” he said. “It frequently benefits consumers by creating lower prices and higher quality.”
That should get the attention of executives at German pharmaceutical and chemicals company Bayer AG. A few days ago, the enterprise submitted its application for approval of its $66 billion takeover of Monsanto to U.S. authorities. Now the clock is ticking on the mega-merger in the agrochemicals sector. It’s expected to be an intense deliberation, as power in the industry has become so consolidated. The U.S. chemical concerns Dow Chemical and Dupont are merging. And Syngenta is being taken over by the Chinese state company Chemchina.
Investors are still skeptical about the Bayer-Monsanto deal being waved through by antitrust authorities. The stock price of the U.S. maker is currently $105 – still way below the agreed purchase price of $128. Bayer was unwilling to comment on whether they thought the election of Mr. Trump would increase their chances of pushing through the merger.