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ChemChina’s Acquisition Of Syngenta Was A ‘Mistake’, Says Chinese Ambassador

ChemChina’s Acquisition Of Syngenta Was A ‘Mistake’, Says Chinese Ambassador
The acquisition of the seed and agrochemicals firm Syngenta by the Chinese firm ChemChina in a deal worth $34 billion was not a wise business decision, said Beijing’s ambassador to Switzerland. The ambassador added that if he had the chance or the opportunity and if he had been in Bern, he would have attempted to prevent the deal, which took place in 2017, from happening, said a newspaper that published the interview of the ambassador.
“If I had been the ambassador a year earlier, the takeover wouldn’t have taken place,” Gen Wenbin, the Chinese ambassador was quoted by the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper as saying in the interview. The news paper report however provided no further details about why he would be opposing the acquisition.
“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?”
When it was bought by ChemChina, the Basel-based Syngenta was listed on the SIX Swiss Stock exchange. The shareholders therefore got the money from the deal which was closed in 2017.
At the time of the deal, there was a debate in Switzerland about the how local companies were being gobbled up by foreign firms and about foreign countries expanding into the country. Following such debate and criticism, currently a measure is being debated in Switzerland parliament by Swiss politicians that could effectively create new laws mandating government approval for deals and sale of Swiss companies to foreign entities.
There has also been some other large deals involving Chinese companies taking over domestic Swiss firms. Such deals include the acquisition of airline caterer Gategroup and ground services and cargo handling firm Swissport by China’s HNA Group.
Potential Chinese investors who had been interested in investing in Switzerland have been forced to seek move to other countries for business because of the criticism in Swiss media about the role of Chinese companies in taking over local domestic Swiss companies, Gen Wenbin said.
“They’re going to Germany,” the ambassador told the daily newspaper talking about the Chinese companies shifting away from Switzerland. .
There were no reactions or comments made by Syngenta to the media. No representative of the Chinese embassy was also available for comments on the issue.
Syngenta, the former Swiss company is currently aiming to grow in the $17 billion Chinese seed market through the mode of acquisitions. The Chinese seed market is restricted and foreign companies are not allowed to gain access into it. Syngenta, under the Chinese control, is also attempting to manufacture and offer new products and collaborations in technology for growth in the segment.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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