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October 26, 2016

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ChemChina ready to offer more sweeteners

CHINESE chemicals group ChemChina is ready to offer more concessions to win European Union antitrust approval for its US$43 billion bid for Swiss pesticide and seed group Syngenta, a source with direct knowledge of the process said.

Clinching China’s biggest-ever foreign acquisition is taking longer than planned amid a flurry of deals in the agriculture sector that Syngenta, the world’s biggest pesticides maker, said yesterday had swamped competition watchdogs.

Syngenta expects the transaction to close around the end of March, rather than this year as first planned, but insisted it would go ahead despite increased scrutiny by watchdogs gauging the impact of big deals on farmers and consumers.

Syngenta’s deal with ChemChina is one of two under EU scrutiny, while another mega deal involving Bayer and Monsanto is expected to land on the regulator’s desk in coming months.

Bayer and Monsanto have not formally requested EU approval but the European Commission has to consider this deal as well when assessing the ChemChina and Syngenta linkup, and another deal involving DuPont and Dow Chemical, to take into account the changing landscape, said an EU official.

A commission spokesman said on Monday that the companies had not offered concessions to get the deal through, raising concerns about the likelihood of a longer, full investigation.

ChemChina submitted a proposal to the commission in September, including a plan to divest some US$20 million worth of assets from its agrochemical subsidiary Adama Agricultural Solutions, the Beijing-based source said.

But the commission raised “a more detailed menu of possible remedies” last week, said the source, who declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

ChemChina is ready to cooperate fully with the commission and come up with a satisfactory solution, the source added.

The commission sometimes opens a full investigation to get a better understanding of complex takeovers, whereby some are eventually cleared with no or minor concessions, though this is probably not the case for ChemChina because of the wave of consolidation moves and the diverse interests involved.


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