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Novartis AstraZeneca deal gets US go-ahead

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Switzerland's Novartis and Britain's AstraZeneca have won approval from the United States Federal Trade Commission to combine their agricultural chemical businesses on condition they sell off certain assets.

Novartis will have to sell its worldwide foliar fungicide business based on the strobilurin chemical class to Germany's Bayer while Zeneca will sell its worldwide corn herbicide business based on the active ingredient acetochlor to the US group, Dow Agro Sciences.

The combined business of AstraZeneca and Novartis will form a new Swiss-based company called Syngenta with about SFr14 billion in sales ($8 billion), owned by Novartis and AstraZeneca shareholders.

"By requiring divestitures in these markets, the Commission will ensure that competition is preserved for farmers who need these products and that Syngenta will not be able to raise prices unilaterally," said Richard Parker, head of the FTC's bureau of competition.

Syngenta will control 23 per cent of the $9 billion North American Free Trade Area market for crop protection, just ahead of the US group, Monsanto.

It will also have a 27 per cent share of the crop protection market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, 16 per cent in Asia and 23 per cent in Latin America.

swissinfo with agencies

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