After refusing a $47 billion-dollar takeover bid from Monsanto – one of its biggest pesticide production competitors – the Swiss agrochemical company Syngenta AG has agreed to a $43 billion cash buyout by government-owned China National Chemical Corp. Syngenta had rejected an earlier bid of $42 billion. This is one of China’s most aggressive takeover attempts of a foreign pesticide and seed company to date.
Syngenta said on February 3 that the agreed-upon offer by the Chinese company, commonly known as ChemChina, amounted to $465 a share. A special dividend of 5 Swiss francs ($4.91) a share was also to be paid immediately before closing the deal.
Although the deal still requires approval from Syngenta shareholders, the announcement caused a six percent jump in Syngenta shares on the Zurich bourse by early afternoon. Earlier, the stock had been 480 francs a share.
John Ramsay, Syngenta’s CEO, said the takeover will help the company to maintain its reputation as a world leader in agrobusiness while expanding its presence in China.
For several years, China’s President Xi Jinping has urged his country to take the lead in developing genetically modified crops. China’s nascent seed industry, he said in a speech last year, should “boldly research and innovate” in GMOs and prevent foreign companies from dominating the market. Biotech for crops was highlighted in China’s most recent draft Five-Year Plan, all the while they were refusing GM imports from the US.
President Xi said that bosses at the ‘merger king’ ChemChina were very pleased with the Syngenta agreement:
“Our vision is not confined to our mutual interests, but will also respond to and maximize the interests of farmers and consumers around the world. We … look forward to working with John Ramsay and the management and employees of Syngenta to deliver safe and reliable solutions for the continued growth in global food demand.”
Hopefully this would include ditching GMOs and chemical agricultural models. But since ChemChina is in the agrobusiness, it looks like harming human health and destroying our environment merely changed hands.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.