"An agreement in principle between the companies and the department, brokered in recent days, marked a breakthrough in the U.S. merger review process, which had remained in limbo because of Justice Department concerns about the deal," the Journal reports. "Bayer Chief Executive Werner Baumann and Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant recently met with Justice officials in Washington to help secure an agreement, people familiar with the matter said."
Bayer, a pharmaceutical-chemical firm based in Germany, is a major manufacturer of pesticides. Monsanto, based in St. Louis, "is a market leader on seeds and crop genes," the Journal notes. "The deal, which was announced in September 2016, would make Bayer the world’s biggest supplier of pesticides and seeds for farmers. The European Union last month conditionally approved the deal after Bayer agreed to sell off more than $7 billion worth of assets to rival BASF SE . The sales include Bayer’s soybean and cottonseed businesses, as well as Bayer’s glufosinate weedkiller, which competes against Monsanto’s Roundup."