NEW YORK (AP) — Shareholders for agriculture and chemicals companies DuPont and Dow Chemical have approved their merger. After it's complete, the century-old companies plan to break up into three parts.
The companies held meetings where shareholders voted on the deal. DuPont said 98 percent of shareholders who participated in its meeting voted in favor of the combination, while Dow Chemical said 97 percent of participating shareholders did the same.
Both Dow and DuPont were pushed by activist investors to break up or find other ways to revitalize their businesses. They agreed to merge in December in an all-stock deal valued at about $62 billion.
They expect the combination to be official by the end of 2016, but regulators will still have to approve it.
Within two years, the company plans to split into three separate publicly traded companies. One company will focus on agriculture, one on material science, and one will make and sell specialty products.
DuPont and Dow Chemical were each founded in the 19th century. Their research has brought the world products ranging from Ziploc bags and Saran wrap, developed by Dow, to DuPont's Teflon coatings and Nylon and Kevlar fibers.
More recently they have focused on agriculture because of growing global demand for food supplies. That's boosted sales of genetically engineered seeds, fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides. However in the last few years falling crop prices caused trouble for both companies.
Facing pressure from investors, Dow and DuPont made some moves to simplify their businesses. DuPont spun off performance chemicals business into a separate company called Chemours last year, while Dow Chemical sold its AgroFresh specialty chemical business and most of its chlorine business.
But those deals weren't enough for investors. DuPont CEO Ellen Kullman resigned in October, a few months after the company fought off a proxy challenge from a hedge fund.
The two sides have been eliminating staff and closing facilities as they get ready to combine. DuPont is laying off about 10 percent of its staff worldwide, and last month Dow said it will cut 2,500 jobs. They say the merger will reduce their annual spending by $3 billion.
Dow Chemical Co. shares rose 59 cents to $52.95 Wednesday and shares of DuPont edged up 19 cents to $67.68.