The European Commission signed off on the $130 billion merger between Dow Chemical (DOW) - Get Report and DuPont (DD) - Get Report Monday but insisted on the sale of the latter's pesticides business in order to ensure competition in the agrochemicals sector.
"Pesticides are products that matter - to farmers, consumers and the environment," said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager in a statement. "We need effective competition in this sector so companies are pushed to develop products that are ever safer for people and better for the environment. Our decision today ensures that the merger between Dow and DuPont does not reduce price competition for existing pesticides or innovation for safer and better products in the future."
Earlier this year, DuPont cautioned that its merger with Dow would hit earnings in the first three months of the year and that first-quarter sales would be largely flat from the same period a year ago in what it described as a "challenged" agricultural sector.
DuPont said the company's first-quarter earnings would include a charge of 15 cents a share for "transaction costs associated with the planned merger with Dow ... prior year GAAP earnings included a net benefit of 18 cents per share from significant items, primarily due to a gain on the sale of an entity."
"This regulatory milestone is a significant step toward closing the merger transaction, with the intention to subsequently spin into three independent publicly traded companies," DuPont said in a statement Monday. "The transaction is expected to create significant cost synergies of approximately $3 billion with the potential for $1 billion in growth synergies."
"Longer term, the intended three-way split is expected to unlock even greater value for shareholders and customers and more opportunity for employees as each company will be a leader in attractive segments where global challenges are driving demand for their distinctive offerings," the company said.
DuPont said it would sell its Cereal Broadleaf Herbicides and Chewing Insecticides portfolios as well as divest its crop protection research and development pipeline and assets.
While both stocks are slightly lower Monday, investors should be happy to hear that the E.U. has approved the merger, TheStreet's Jim Cramer, manager of the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said on CNBC's "Mad Dash" segment.
This was important, Cramer said. Getting E.U. approval was a big hurdle for this merger to clear.
Dow Chemical is a position in the Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, and one that investors should stay long. Cramer said there's still value in the name and that investors still have gains to capture. The merger will result in three main businesses and each will be attractive, he reasoned.
There's one concern about the E.U. approval though: Crop protection. Former DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman had always talked about how important that business was to DuPont. Without it, DuPont would lose one of its major growth businesses, Cramer explained.
It's unclear if that will be the case, but if the company needs to shed the business in order for the merger to be completed, it will be bad news. At the moment though, Cramer said he's "not sweating" it and is pleased by Monday's news.
At the time of publication, Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS had a position in DOW.