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Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. are in advanced talks to merge, in a tie-up that would cap off the strongest year ever for takeovers and come amid a surge of deal activity in the agriculture industry.

The chemical giants, which each has a market capitalization of about $60 billion, could announce a merger in coming days, people familiar with the matter said. It would be followed by a three-way breakup of the combined company, they said, a common approach to mergers and acquisitions of late.

Dow’s

DOW, -2.17%

 Chief Executive Andrew Liveris is expected to be executive chairman of the new company, with DuPont

DD, -0.75%

 Chief Executive Edward Breen keeping that title. A deal has not yet been inked and the talks could fall apart, the people cautioned.

Should it come to fruition, a combination of the centuries-old companies would be one of the biggest in a year marked by big deals. So far, companies have struck some $4.35 trillion of takeovers in 2015, in recent days eclipsing 2007 as the top year on record for deals, according to Dealogic.

It would create a giant with more than $90 billion in combined sales and strong positions in everything from plastics to industrial chemicals and agriculture.

An expanded version of this report appears at WSJ.com.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dupont-and-dow-chemical-near-merger-wsj-2015-12-08