* Synergy target cut by $300 mln to $1.2 bln
* Bayer CEO stresses merits of deal at investor meeting
* U.S. antitrust approval still outstanding
* Bayer sees deal closing in near future (Adds background on antitrust reviews, divestments)
By Patricia Weiss
BONN, May 25 (Reuters) - Bayer said positive synergy effects from the planned takeover of U.S. seeds maker Monsanto would be about $300 million below its previous target because it will sell more businesses than initially expected to get antitrust approval.
Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann again threw his weight behind the deal, despite higher antitrust hurdles and delays in the regulatory reviews, speaking to shareholders at the annual general meeting on Friday.
"I'm convinced that this acquisition has very great potential for creating value for our company, our stockholders and our customers," Baumann said, adding he expected the deal to be approved and closed in the near future.
If the deal is not closed by June 14, Monsanto could withdraw from the takeover agreement and seek a higher price.
The last major hurdle to clear is the go-ahead from U.S. regulators for the deal, worth $62.5 billion including debt, but Bayer has already come to an agreement in principle on the terms of approval with the Department of Justice.
It has agreed to sell assets, which include seed, crop chemicals and digital farming activities, with revenues of 2.2 billion euro ($2.6 billion) for 7.6 billion euros to rival BASF .
Combining with takeover target Monsanto will have synergy effects of about $1.2 billion on adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) from 2022, Bayer said - less than the $1.5 billion targeted when the transaction was agreed in September 2016.
$1 = 0.8530 euros Reporting by Patricia Weiss Writing by Ludwig Burger Editing by Maria Sheahan