The DuPont Co. will resume salary increases in the fourth quarter, and will start giving annual bonuses again in early 2017, after a couple of years of making professionals go without.
DuPont has also resumed promotions, in departments where upgrades have been scarce, according to staff at the Wilmington-based industrial conglomerate.
The company plans to consolidate with Dow Chemical Co., then spin out three successor firms, under pressure from investors who ran out of patience with DuPont's time-honored but diminishingly productive approach to product development.
The move back to more normal career progress comes as managers and researchers have been spooked by the job cuts that haunt corporate mergers.
DuPont cut 5,000 jobs in late 2014 and 2015 as it prepared for Dow, including 1,700 in the Wilmington area (it now employs fewer than 5,000 locally, half as many as JPMorgan). Bosses plan more cuts after joining with Dow. Together, Dow and DuPont employ around 100,000 people worldwide. Dow employs around 2,000 in the Philadelphia area, including ex-Rohm & Haas workers.
Dow and DuPont need approval from U.S. regulators and the European Commission - the same EC that demanded $14 billion in back taxes from Apple on Aug. 30, stepping on America's own efforts to get Apple tax payments.
The EC seems in no rush. Brussels officers this summer published a paper asking "whether the proposed merger could reduce competition" and jack up prices for weed-killers, fungus-killers, nematode-killers, gene-editing technology (DuPont scientists invented the gene-cutters medical researchers use), and plastic wrap. They called Dow and DuPont's early merger defense "insufficient." On Friday, they froze the investigation, demanding more data.
"The merger agreement may be terminated" if the deal isn't done" by March 15, 2017," the partners told shareholders in their July letter.
While retirees and environmentalists worry "DowDuPont's" spin-off plans may leave massive bills unpaid for pensions and land and water cleanup, few U.S. officials raised public objections - other than U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa).
Last winter, Grassley courted the companies, suggesting they stick the headquarters for their planned $30 billion seed-and-pesticide spin-off firm in Des Moines, Iowa.
Dow and DuPont said they'll keep bosses in Delaware, thanks. Then Grassley asked the Justice Department to investigate the deal's impact on farm chemical prices.
DuPont agriculture chief Jim Collins will head to Washington to hear Grassley at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday. Collins will urge "the pro-competitive aspects of the merger," spokesman Dan Turner told me.
The EC's halt "is a routine procedural part of the EC process. It does not change our timing expectations," Turner added. The companies still hope to seal their deal "by year-end 2016."