A visual showing the EU Commission building with the icon of a revolving door. On the left side of the door there is the DG COMP logo while on the right side there is the logo of Compass LexEcon. The visual also presents the logos of Bayer and BASF

Bayer-Monsanto merger: lobby watchdogs expose double revolving door case

Brussels, 26 February 2024 - Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl reveal a revolving door case from the European Commission relating to the Bayer-Monsanto merger in 2018. The two NGOs have discovered a move just after the conclusion of the merger by a DG Competition team member to become Vice President of a consultancy firm (Compass Lexecon) involved in the merger process right after it happened. The consultancy submitted documents in the merger process on behalf of  German chemical giant BASF, which acquired a significant part of Bayer's assets in the process.

On Friday, 23 February 2024, Der Spiegel published new information gathered by LobbyControl and Corporate Europe Observatory over a potential conflict of interest regarding the decision to authorise the controversial merger. 

  • In March 2018 the European Commission approved the Bayer-Monsanto merger. 
  • That September, a Chief Economist's Team member at DG Competition joined Compass Lexecon as Vice President. 
  • Within DG Competition, the team responsible for the decision-making on the Bayer-Monsanto merger explicitly thanked this person for his contribution to the case. 
  • Compass Lexecon had submitted crucial reports to DG Competition on behalf of BASF, in favour of the merger and of BASF's acquisition of a significant part of Bayer’s assets.
  • In a double revolving door move, the person in question then rejoined DG Competition’s Chief Economist team in October 2020, where he stayed until June 2022, after which he moved to DG Tax.

In a previous joint report Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl showed that it has become common practice for DG Comp members to be hired by economic consultancies directly engaged in the major mergers regulated by DG Com; including Compass Lexecon, Charles River Associates International, Oxera, and RBB Economics. This shows a concerning pattern of conflicts of interest not being taken seriously by DG Competition.

At the end of last year, LobbyControl and Corporate Europe Observatory requested access to documents related to this revolving door case to Compass Lexecon and back to the European Commission; this person’s role in the Bayer/Monsanto merger; and the BASF/Bayer Divestment deal. However, the Director General has refused access to any non-public documents.

João Camargo, researcher and campaigner for Corporate Europe Observatory, comments: “There are many alarm signs in this process. The impact of this merger can not be understated. It has changed agriculture globally, pushing the agenda of toxic agribusiness, seed patents, and GMOs into an ever bigger monopoly. The fact that the Commission defends its decision to hide the documents that led to this process adds a further layer of opacity.”

Max Bank, researcher and campaigner at LobbyControl, adds: “We want to know whether there were any conflicts of interest in the Bayer-Monsanto merger at the EU competition authority”.

Read the research here.


For media inquiries, please contact 

Joao Camargo, Corporate Europe Observatory researcher and campaigner 

joao@corporateeurope.org +351 963367363

Max Bank,  LobbyControl researcher and campaigner

presse@lobbycontrol.de; +49 30 467 26 72 11

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