Syngenta considering seed business purchases as ChemChina completes acquisition

Now officially under ChemChina’s ownership, Syngenta says it’s aiming to expand its seed business, and is “considering targeted acquisitions with a focus on seeds.”

ChemChina CEO and chair Ren Jianxin was elected chair of Syngenta’s board of directors at a general shareholder meeting in Basel, Switzerland on Monday, where he said Syngenta will maintain operational independence and its existing management team.

Former Syngenta chair Michel Demare will now serve as vice-chair and lead independent director, while Erik Fyrwald remains CEO.

“All our stakeholders are benefiting from this change of ownership. Jobs have been safeguarded and farmers will continue to have a choice and enjoy the benefits of our investments in technology,” said Demare in a statement. “Syngenta will continue to be headquartered and to pay taxes in Switzerland, with major manufacturing and R&D sites in the country. Syngenta remains a standalone company, with a new owner who has a long term vision for our industry and will invest accordingly.”

With its new owner, the goal is to “strengthen Syngenta’s leadership position in crop protection and to become an ambitious number three in seeds,” said the company in a news release on Tuesday.

Fyrwald indicated acquisitions related to rival company mergers could have a role in expanding Syngenta’s seed business.

“We are very interested in seed assets from remedies and beyond that,” he said, according to Reuters, in response to a question about anti-trust regulators requiring Bayer sell some of its assets in its proposed purchase of Monsanto.

While Syngenta recently decided to stop selling its canola seed in Canada, Bayer is looking at selling its LibertyLink canola seed business to gain regulatory approval of its deal with Monsanto. There have been reports both BASF and Syngenta have submitted bids (although it’s not clear whether they’re still on the table.)

Beyond expanding its seed business, Jianxin told the Basler Zeitung Swiss newspaper the company is aiming to double overall sales in the next five to 10 years. Syngenta says key drivers will be “further expansion in emerging markets, notably China, the stepping up of digital agriculture offers, and ongoing investment in new technologies to increase crop yields while reducing CO2 emissions and preserving water resources.”

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