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Syngenta: China offer better than Monsanto ‘suggestions’

The offer that Sygenta has received from the China National Chemical Corporation is much better than any of the “suggestions” Monsanto made last year about purchasing the Swiss-based agrochemicals and seed firm, a key Syngenta executive said today in a call to reporters.

Davor Pisk, the Syngenta chief operating officer, told reporters that the $43 billion offer for all shares, which has been approved unanimously by the Syngenta board, is better for all stakeholders, including farmers, because it “preserves choice” at a time of increasing consolidation in the industry.

The offer is subject to approval by two-thirds of Syngenta stockholders and regulatory authorities.

“It is a clear commitment that Syngenta retains its identity and strategy,” PIsk said. “It will continue to be headquartered here in Switzerland.”

“…Syngenta retains its identity and strategy. It will continue to be headquartered here in Switzerland.”Davor Pisk, Syngenta chief operating officer

Monsanto never made a formal offer, he said, but the proposals included a transfer of Monsanto shares that could have gone up or down during the regulatory process. Whether regulatory authorities would have approved the merger would also have been in question, Pisk said.

In terms of regulatory approvals of the Chinese offer, Pisk said, “I don’t anticipate there being any impact there. We will continue to try to satisfy the needs of Chinese regulators to the best of our ability.

“I do hope that China will be more open to receiving inputs from Syngenta on how policies including the regulatory area evolve in the future,” he said.

Pisk said that there is one process for Chinese regulatory approvals whether it is for Chinese or foreign companies. He noted that “there is a reluctance among Chinese consumers to accept biotechnology,” but he said that Syngenta hopes to be part of the “opportunity” to educate those consumers.

Despite Pisk’s comments that farmers would still have choice, Food & Water Watch said that the Justice Department should stop the ChemChina purchase of Syngenta.

“Today’s deal dwarfs the takeover of formerly U.S.-owned Smithfield by WH Group in 2013. The Department of Justice and antitrust authorities of governments across the world must act to block these seed megamergers,” said Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of Food & Water Watch.

Noting that a merger of DuPont and Dow Chemical has already been announced, Hauter said, “The rapid concentration of economic power and seed patents in the hands of a tiny and diminishing number of global agribusiness giants harms farmers and eaters worldwide.”

“Farmers will undoubtedly be forced to pay more for a reduced selection of options controlled by the gargantuan seed monopoly,” she said.

“The companies use the patented seed varieties — overwhelmingly biotech crops with accompanying pesticides and agrochemicals — to control not only the selection of what farmers plant, but how they cultivate their crops, what chemicals they use on their fields and how they can manage their farms.”

–The Hagstrom Report


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