LONDON (ICIS)--The anticipated merger of US chemicals giants Dow Chemical and DuPont may not occur until the first quarter of 2017, DuPont CEO Ed Breen said on Tuesday, leaving hopes that the $130bn deal may close before the end of 2016 as planned increasingly remote. “We continue to work constructively with regulators in key jurisdictions to close the merger as soon as possible,” said Breen. “In the event that regulators in those jurisdictions use their full allotted time, closing would be expected to occur in the first quarter of 2017. We expect the intended spins to occur about 18 months after closing,” Breen said. The separation of the merged DowDuPont into three independent companies – agriculture, material sciences and specialties – was originally expected to be concluded 18-24 months after the deal is completed. Breen's statement comes after the EU’s competition commission extended the provisional deadline for a decision on the merger from 1 January 2017 to 11 January. The Commission has opened an in-depth probe into the merger, in particular the impact on Europe’s agricultural markets. The Commission noted at the time that the strength of a combined DowDuPont’s portfolio of herbicides and insecticides could reduce the competitiveness of those markets in terms of price, quality, choice and innovation.