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Bayer to sell Liberty crop protection brands to get merger nod

FRANKFURT May 8 Bayer has agreed to divest its Liberty herbicide and Liberty Link-branded seeds businesses across the globe to win antitrust approval for its planned merger with Monsanto, it said on Monday.

The conditions were imposed by South Africa's Competition Commission on Sunday and agreed by Bayer.

"Bayer has agreed to these conditions and is evaluating how best to execute the imposed divestiture," the German group said in its statement.

While South Africa is a relatively small market for the two global agricultural supplies giants, the move marks the first time for Bayer to acknowledge it has to sell the two related Liberty brands, which compete with Monsanto's Roundup weed killer and Roundup Ready seeds.

The planned divestitures are widely expected to be also imposed by watchdogs in larger jurisdictions, such as the United States and the European Union, where antitrust procedures are still ongoing.

"Bayer will continue working with regulators globally with a view to receiving approval of the proposed transaction by the end of 2017," the company added.

In March, the German drug and crop chemicals maker, together with Monsanto, began the process of selling assets worth roughly $2.5 billion as they seek regulatory clearance for their $66 billion merger, people close to the matter told Reuters at the time. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Christoph Steitz)

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