Syngenta-ChemChina deal faces delay

by Eric Schroeder
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BASEL, SWITZERLAND — Although considerable progress has been made on the regulatory front concerning ChemChina’s $43 billion acquisition of Syngenta, the transaction now is not expected to close by the end of the year, said Erik Fyrwald, chief executive officer of Syngenta.

Syngenta Erik Fyrwald CEO
Erik Fyrwald, chief executive officer of Syngenta.

“We achieved national security clearance from CFIUS in the U.S. and anti-trust clearance from a total of 11 regulatory authorities,” Fyrwald said during an Oct. 25 conference call with analysts. “The key outstanding anti-trust approvals are the E.U., for which we filed on Sept. 23, and the U.S., where we are ready to file, subject to updated feedback from the FTC, which is expected in the coming days.”

One of the issues causing the delay is Bayer AG’s pending $66 billion acquisition of Monsanto Co. The Bayer-Monsanto deal was announced in mid-September, and since that time regulators have requested “a large amount of additional information,” Fyrwald said.

“In the E.U., this means that the review is likely to enter phase two and the regulatory process will extend into the first quarter of 2017,” he said. “ChemChina and Syngenta remain fully committed to the transaction and we are very confident of its closure.”

Fyrwald said he believes regulators “are absolutely doing their job by asking more questions and getting more detail about the markets” in light of the two major pending acquisitions.

“(We have) much more detail and much more questions than we’ve had in the past,” he said. “But, however, we have not had anything in our regulatory discussions that give us any concern about the ability of us to get our deal done.”

Specifically, Mr. Fyrwald said that since the Bayer-Monsanto deal was announced ChemChina and Syngenta have been asked for more detail about breakdowns, micro geographies, specific crops and specific products on specific crops.

“We think it’s very important for the regulators to do their job to ensure appropriate competition remains and appropriate new innovation remains,” he said. “But as we look at our deal, we don’t see anything that we’ve heard back from any feedback so far, and we don’t see that the competitive overlap gives us any concern about our deal getting closed. We are very confident that our deal will get closed.”

Total group sales for Syngenta in the third quarter ended Sept. 30 totaled $2.524 billion, down 3% from $2.616 billion in the same period a year ago. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, sales totaled $9.618 billion, down 6% from $10.250 billion a year ago.

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