Syngenta rejects $42-bn takeover offer from ChemChina

Syngenta AG, the world's largest agrichemical company, has rejected an initial $42-billion takeover offer from China National Chemical Corp (ChemChina), Bloomberg yesterday reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

State-owned ChemChina had offered to pay 449 francs a share, valuing the Swiss pesticide maker at about 41.7 billion francs ($42 billion).

Syngenta, which currently has a market value of about $32 billion, is still in talks with ChemChina and an agreement could be reached in the next few weeks, the report said.

Syngenta is also talking to other potential suitors as it explores options, the report added.

The Wall Street Journal had reported last week that Syngenta was in talks over a potential merger with DuPont's agriculture division.

The move comes five months after Syngenta AG spurned a $45-billion unsolicited takeover offer from US rival Monsanto Co, saying that the proposed deal undervalued the company (See: Syngenta rejects $45 billion Monsanto takeover offer)

Formed in 2000 through the merger of Novartis Agribusiness and Zeneca Agrochemicals, Syngenta is the world's largest crop chemical producer, and the third-largest in seeds and biotechnology by sales.

The Basel-based company deals in herbicides, insecticides and fungicides for crop protection, field crops, vegetables and flower seeds, seed-care products and turf, garden, home care and public health products.

Syngenta has production facilities located in Switzerland, the UK, the US, France, India and Brazil.

It employs over 28,000 in around 90 countries and has annual sales of over $15.billion.

For ChemChina, the Syngenta transaction would be the biggest overseas acquisition after it purchased Italian tyremaker Pirelli in August in a $7.7 billion deal.

Beijing-based, ChemChina was created in 2005 by putting together several chemical firms under the erstwhile ministry of chemical industry and grew into a $10-billion business with 120,000 employees under chief executive Aye Ren Jianxin, a former communist youth league leader.

However, it is still overshadowed by state-owned behemoths Sinopec Corp and PetroChina Co Ltd.