John Deere and Monsanto deal stalls over competition issues

The US Department of Justice has filed a civil antitrust lawsuit seeking to block John Deere’s (Deere and Co) proposed acquisition of Precision Planting LLC from Monsanto Company.

The justice department filed the lawsuit in order to preserve competition in the market for high-speed precision planting systems in the US.

Deere and Precision Planting are the only two effective competitors in high-speed precision planting, conservatively accounting for at least 86% of the market, according to the US department of justice complaint.

It believes that the acquisition would deny farmers throughout the country the benefits of competition that has spurred innovation, improved quality and lowered prices.

Acting Assistant Attorney General, Renata Hesse, of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division said that if this deal were allowed to proceed, Deere would dominate the market for high-speed precision planting systems and be able to raise prices and slow innovation at the expense of American farmers who rely on these systems.

The complaint details how the intense head-to-head competition between Deere and Precision Planting since that time has directly benefitted farmers through aggressive discounts and promotions, lower prices and innovative product offerings.

The complaint alleges that Deere’s proposed acquisition of the company it has described as its “number one competitor” would allow it to control nearly every method through which American farmers can acquire effective high-speed precision planting systems and provide it with the ability to set prices, output, quality and product features without the constraints of market competition.

John Deere has since announced that it plans to contest the lawsuit and that in November, Deere and The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, signed a definitive agreement for Deere to acquire the Precision Planting LLC equipment business, and the companies cooperated fully with the justice department’s antitrust review.

It has said that the allegations about the competitive impacts of the transaction are misguided and the companies intend to defend the transaction vigorously against those allegations.

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