Syngenta-ChemChina Closure Pushed Into 2107
The cat is out of the bag: the $43 billion takeover of Swiss agrochemicals producer Syngenta by ChemChina will not be completed before the first quarter of 2017. Putting a temporary cap on speculation about the deal’s status, Syngenta CEO Eric Fyrwald indicated in presenting Q3 financial results – which were in line with the market’s expectations – that the regulatory process is daunting.
As the entire agrochemicals industry is consolidating, Fyrwald said antitrust authorities in the EU and elsewhere have recently requested a large amount of additional information. However, he stressed that Syngenta and ChemChina “remain fully committed to the transaction and are confident of its closure.” Fyrwald pointed to data requests on crop, geography and active ingredients. Explaining why ChemChina missed the EU’s Oct. 21 deadline to submit proposals for divestment, he said the European Commission was not ready to provide feedback on any of the solutions that might be sought.
The process of obtaining regulatory approvals is well underway, the CEO noted. The US Committee on Foreign Investment, CIFUS, has given the green light from a national security perspective, and 11 anti-trust approvals already have been received. Syngenta previously said it expected the deal to close by the end of this year. In the meantime, the prospect of any of the mega mergers in the sector – which include the DowDuPont fusion plans and the takeover of Monsanto by Bayer – closing this year looks dim, observers say.
Fyrwald said he fully expects the Commission to open an in-depth investigation, adding that, due to the small amount of overlap in this transaction, if remedies were requested the companies would work with authorities to resolve these as quickly as possible. Citing sources, news agencies have suggested that ChemChina may be prepared to offer more concessions to win EU approval. Earlier reports said the Chinese company had submitted a proposal to the Commission in September, including a plan to divest some $20 million worth of assets from its subsidiary Adama Agricultural Solutions. According to Reuters, the Commission deemed these divestment plans inadequate.