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7-Misc: U.S. Justice Department has 'vertical concerns' about Monsanto's cotton business



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TITLE:  Justice department picks on more than cotton in Monsanto
        bid
SOURCE: Dow Jones News, by Jerry Guidera
        sent by AGNET, Canada
DATE:   July 1, 1999

----------------- archive: http://www.gene.ch/ ------------------


Justice department picks on more than cotton in Monsanto bid

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Justice Department wants, according to this
story, Monsanto Co. to shed more than the company had hoped in
its bid for a rival in the cotton seed market, according to
people familiar with the matter. Monsanto has offered to divest
its cotton seed operations in order to gain approval from U.S.
regulators for its pending $1.5 billion merger with Delta & Pine
Land Co., but, the story says, the review has extended for more
than a year now because the Justice Department also has raised
questions that reach well beyond simple issues of market share in
the production of cotton seeds.

As reported, the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant offered
earlier this year to divest Stoneville Pedigree Seed Co., its
cotton seed business, in order to address concerns about
cornering the market in that product. Monsanto's own cotton seed
operations account for only about 15% of total U.S. production of
the crop, but Delta & Pine Land has a hold on nearly three
quarters of total domestic sales of the seed. The olive branch
was, the story notes, widely seen by observers to be enough to
address the government's concerns.

More recently, however, Justice Department attorneys have raised
what are referred to as 'vertical concerns' - in the case of
Monsanto and Delta & Pine Land, issues related to genetically
engineered products - and negotiations on those matters have
slowed the review process, according to these people. Monsanto
declined to comment on the Justice Department's investigation,
while agency officials said the probe is ongoing and declined to
elaborate.



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