The company will also execute a scheme led by DuPont boss Edward Breen and Dow chief Andrew Liveris to split into three successor firms:
-- a materials company based at Dow headquarters in Midland, Mich.; 
-- a pesticide-and-seed maker based in Wilmington but run largely from offices and labs in the Midwest; 
-- a grab-bag of DuPont's remaining businesses, at least some of which analysts expect will attract takeover offers from larger companies or investors.

The merger has also raised questions from farm-state senators and corporate customers who worry about reduced price competition, and plaintiff lawyers trying to sue DuPont and Dow for environmental and product claims.

While disruptive to DuPont employees, and maybe to customers, the cuts and rebranding could be lucrative for DuPont's and Dow's shareholders, who have held on through decades of failed investor targets and share underperformance.

DuPont, the most valuable company in the U.S. in the 1950s, when descendants of its founding family controlled General Motors Corp. and other big DuPont customers, is still listed among the Dow-Jones 30 Industrials. But after years of pumping profits into share buybacks and dividends and disappointing acquisitions, it is now one of the smallest companies on that list.

The spin-offs and break-up mirror the way Breen, a longtime New Hope-area resident, made earlier fortunes for himself and other shareholders by disposing of his former corporate employers, Horsham-based General Instrument Corp. and Princeton-based Tyco International Ltd.

Even before Breen joined the board last year and, six months later, replaced engineer and DuPont lifer Ellen Kullman as CEO, DuPont has spun off a long series of  businesses, including Axalta, the Philadelphia-based car-paint company, and Chemours, a Wilmington-based chemical-maker.

Chemours, which owns ex-DuPont plants along the Delaware River in South Jersey and the Wilmington area, among other places, has warned that it is prepared to fight DuPont over the cost of settling toxic pollution claims for factories and products it inherited from its mother company, for instance in recent cancer lawsuit judgments targeting byproducts from DuPont's former Teflon production facilities in West Virginia.