Syngenta Eyes Seeds Assets, ChemChina may Float
To build up its seeds business, Swiss agrochemicals major, recently acquired by ChemChina, is eager to pick up some of the assets German rival Bayer will be forced to divest in order to gain international regulatory approval for its proposed $66 billion takeover of industry heavyweight Monsanto.
"We are very interested in seed assets from remedies and beyond that,” CEO Erik Fyrwald said at news conference at Basel headquarters.
In May, Bayer said it was prepared to sell its leading crop protection brand LibertyLink, which includes a herbicide and seeds, allaying the South African Competition Commission’s concerns about competition in the market for GM cotton seeds.
At Syngenta’s annual general meeting in Basel on Jun.26, the Swiss group and its new owner outlined ambitions and priorities following the completion of the transaction Syngenta said it aims to profitably grow market share through organic growth and collaborations and is considering targeted acquisitions with a focus on seeds. Here, the goal is to strengthen its leadership position in crop protection and to become an “ambitious number” three in seeds.
Figures show that Syngenta is already the third largest global seeds player, but trails some distance behind Monsanto and DuPont. To help close the gap, it plans to pursue its own acquisitions and licensing deals, management said.
Key drivers for the next phase of growth will be further expansion in emerging markets, notably China, improvement of its digital presence in the agriculture sector and further investment in new technologies to increase crop yields, while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions and preserving water resources.
Elected chairman of Syngenta’s board of directors at the meeting, ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin confirmed that the Swiss player will retain its operational independence, with the existing management team continuing to run the company.
Michel Demaré, former Syngenta chairman and newly elected vice chairman of the now Chinese-owned company, stressed that the group will continue to be headquartered and pay taxes in Switzerland, with major manufacturing and R&D sites remaining in the country.
Seeds will be the main plank of the growth strategy to meet ChemChina's target for Syngenta to double its revenue over the next five to 10 years, Ren Jianxin said. At the same time, the Chinese chemical producer, which has acquired close to 98% of the group's shares, announced that it plans to float a minority stake in the medium term to pad its balance sheet.
"The timing of the minority ipo of Syngenta will depend on the market situation, but the time frame would be about five years," Ren Jianxin, said, while dismissing rumors that the Chinese group could merge with compatriot, state-owned Sinochem.