The European Commission has called a temporary halt to its investigation into Bayer’s planned acquisition of Monsanto while it waits for information from both companies.
The EU launched an in-depth probe into the €56bn (£50bn) deal in August because of concerns it could reduce competition in the market for pesticides and seeds.
The investigation was set to take 90 working days to complete, with the commission due to give its verdict on whether it contravenes EU merger regulations on 8 January 2018.
However, the EU announced last week it had decided to “stop the clock” on its investigation while it waits for missing information to be supplied.
“This procedure in merger investigations is activated if the parties fail to provide, in a timely fashion, an important piece of information the commission has requested from them,” said a spokesman.
“Once the missing information is supplied by the parties, the clock is restarted and the deadline for the commission’s decision is then adjusted accordingly.”
The European Commission launched its investigation because of concerns that creating the world’s largest integrated pesticides and seeds company will mean less competition in the market for agricultural inputs.
It is argued this could lead to higher prices, lower quality and less choice for farmers – with knock-on consequences for consumers.
The deal comes at a time of massive consolidation in the global agricultural market, as illustrated by the recent mergers of Dow and Dupont and Syngenta and ChemChina.
In the US, farm representatives are warning a wave of mergers have swept through the food system, putting economic power in the hands of a few companies and leaving little for farmers, workers and consumers.