Chemicals and seeds producer DuPont said on Tuesday it expected its merger with Dow Chemical Co. (DOW.N) to close in the first half of the year, suggesting it will take longer than previously estimated to win approvals for the US$130 billion deal.

Previously, the companies said they hoped to wrap up the transaction in the first quarter of 2017.

DuPont, which also reported a better-than-expected profit for the sixth straight quarter, said it continued to have constructive discussions with regulators in key jurisdictions.

This is at least the second time the two companies, which have been in talks with EU antitrust regulators to save their merger, have had to push back the expected completion period.

DuPont also said it expected its profit in the current quarter to fall 18 per cent from a year earlier due to a charge of 15 cents US per share related to the Dow deal.

Operating profit, which excludes one-time charges, is expected to rise about 8 per cent, helped by cost cutting and increased seed deliveries.

Net income attributable to the company was US$265 million, or 30 cents US per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared with a loss of US$253 million, or 29 cents US per share, in the same quarter of 2015.

Excluding items, the company earned 51 cents US per share, beating analysts' average estimate of 42 cents US, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net sales fell 1.7 per cent to US$5.21 billion, missing analysts' average estimate of US$5.29 billion.