ChemChina’s $43b takeover of Syngenta was a mistake, says Chinese envoy

FILE PHOTO: The company logo of China National Chemical Corp, or ChemChina, is seen at its headquarters in Beijing, China February 3, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Beijing’s ambassador to Switzerland said ChemChina’s $43 billion takeover of seed and agrochemicals firm Syngenta was a mistake, adding he would have tried to stop the 2017 deal had he been in Bern at the time, a newspaper reported in an interview on Saturday.

“If I had been the ambassador a year earlier, the takeover wouldn’t have taken place,” Gen Wenbin was quoted as telling the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper, without giving specific reasons for his opposition to the deal.

“It wasn’t a good deal for the Chinese side. It was for Switzerland: It got $40 billion. If Switzerland wants Syngenta back, I would convince ChemChina to sell it. But is there anybody at all in Switzerland who wants Syngenta back?”

Basel-based Syngenta was listed on the SIX Swiss Stock exchange when it was bought by ChemChina, so shareholders received the money from the deal that closed in 2017.

After the takeover spurred debate over foreign countries expanding in Switzerland, Swiss politicians are debating a measure in parliament that could require government approval of sales of Swiss companies to foreign entities.

Other big Chinese investments in Swiss companies include HNA Group’s purchase of airline caterer Gategroup and ground services and cargo handling firm Swissport.

Gen Wenbin said criticism in Switzerland’s media over such transactions had driven potentialChinese investors to look elsewhere.

“They’re going to Germany,” the ambassador told the daily newspaper.

Syngenta did not return a phone call and email seeking comment on Saturday. No one could immediately be reached to comment at the Chinese embassy.

The former Swiss firm is targeting growth through acquisitions in the $17 billion Chinese seed market, where access is restricted for foreign players, as well as new products and collaborations in technology.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.