19 August 1999 19:11 [Source: ICIS news]
HOUSTON (CNI)--The antitrust investigation of the Monsanto-Delta and Pine Land merger may be taking a new and unprecedented turn with the government for the first time launching a study of the impact of genetic traits, CNI learned Thursday.
Antitrust investigators have kept the $1.3bn (Euro1.2bn) deal on hold for 15 months and recently issued what observers consider an unusual third request for additional information.
"If they have shifted to genetic traits as a target it will mark the first time for that and will take a lot more time to figure out," said David Wheat, who heads the Bowditch Group of Boston, Massachusetts.
A consultant in the agricultural biotechnology arena, Wheat emphasised he is merely speculating about the latest turn of events in the Monsanto-Delta merger saga but said a review of the commercial impact from genetic technology would pose a complex, new dilemma for investigators from the US Department of Justice.
He said: "I'm surprised by this latest delay. I thought the sale of Calgene would clear everything up."
Monsanto sold its Calgene Chemical subsidiary to specialty chemical company Petroferm in February of 1998.
Now Wheat joins other analysts in predicting more delays for closure of the deal regardless of the specific direction of the latest request for information.
Other reports indicate the government is curious about the proposed sale of Monsanto's Stoneville Seed to a Dallas, Texas investment firm. Those reports suggest investigators want to make sure that Monsanto and Delta did not collaborate on the divestiture plans.
Both companies have said only that they intend to cooperate fully with the government's investigation.
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