June 27, 2017 / 2:18 PM / 3 months ago

Chinese-owned Syngenta eyes Bayer assets to bolster seeds

A Syngenta logo is pictured in their office in Singapore, February 12, 2016. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files

BASEL (Reuters) - Switzerland’s Syngenta, the crop protection company acquired by ChemChina, has vowed to bulk up its seeds business and join the chase for assets rival Bayer must sell to gain regulatory approval for its takeover of Monsanto.

Syngenta, a distant third in the global seeds market behind Monsanto and Dupont, is determined not to lose ground on its rivals as the seeds and crop-protection sector continues an unprecedented wave of mergers and acquisitions.

The Swiss group, the world’s leading crop chemicals maker, itself fought off unwanted suitor Monsanto before agreeing to be taken over by ChemChina to secure better access to Asian markets and is now targeting its own acquisitions and licensing deals.

“We are very interested in seed assets from remedies and beyond that,” Chief Executive Erik Fyrwald told a news conference at the group’s Basel headquarters, responding to a question about assets to be sold by Bayer.

Bayer last month said it will sell its LibertyLink-branded seeds businesses, a key part of asset sales required to satisfy competition authorities looking at the $66 billion Monsanto deal.

“The goal is to strengthen Syngenta’s leadership position in crop protection and to become an ambitious No.3 in seeds,” the company said in a news release on Tuesday.

Seeds will be the main plank of the growth strategy to meet ChemChina’s target for Syngenta to double its revenue over the next five to 10 years, the Chinese group said on Tuesday.

ChemChina, which has acquired close to 98 percent of Syngenta’s shares, also plans to float a minority stake in its newly acquired subsidiary on the stock market in the next five years or so to bolster its balance sheet.

“The timing of the minority IPO of Syngenta will depend on the market situation, but the time frame would be about five years,” ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin, now also Syngenta chairman, said at the news conference.

Ren also dismissed as “rumours” reports that ChemChina could merge with state-owned Chinese peer Sinochem.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Michael Shields and David Goodman

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